Are You a Creative if You Don’t Know What Pantone Is?

True confessions—I didn’t know what Pantone was until a coworker made me choose my Pantone color from a box of cards (I chose 18-4330, Swedish Blue). It probably says I am safe and predictable. I also don’t wait with baited breath for the yearly reveal of Pantone’s color of the year.

But I work with a talented group of individuals who do. They craft some beautiful and amazing pieces and exemplify what people imagine when they hear the descriptor, “creative.”

Here at ADG Creative, we are fond of calling everyone a ‘creative,’ but is it possible that everyone can be creative, from the accountant to the strategist? You bet.

Creativity extends beyond the Macs loaded with the latest Adobe software. It is the project manager who sees how to improve our process to deliver a product on time and in budget; it is the strategist who crafts a technical message for a non-technical audience; it is the developer who writes code to do something that “can’t be done”; it is the account executive who envisions how to meet a client’s goal within, or dare I say, under budget; and it is the facilities manager who eradicates a fruit fly infestation with MacGyver-esque ingenuity that can’t be described online for liability reasons.

Albert Einstein famously said, “creativity is the residue of time wasted.” Lest you think we spend all of our time playing foosball, video games, or drinking beer in ADG’s café (all options here at ADG), keep in mind Nietzsche’s perspective, “All great artists and thinkers are great workers.”

The practical question, though, is how can you foster your own creativity—whether you are excited by Excel Pivot Tables or Pantone 16-1362.

Jonah Lehrer recently wrote, Imagine: How Creativity Works, and adapted his book for an article in the March 10, 2012 Wall Street Journal. In essence, he lays out how anyone can improve their creativity. It can be summed up in clearing your mind and shifting your focus. He contends creativity, “is a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it.”

Some practical steps you can take to foster your own creativity, from Lehrer and others, include:

  • Seek diverse experiences – A broad range of knowledge helps you see solutions from different angles. Go – do something completely different from your 9 to 5 (or 7 to 7) job and hang out with people different than you.
  • Don’t be constrained by what you can’t do – We were all kids once, and we didn’t know what we couldn’t do. Getting back to that mindset fosters creativity and innovation – after all, innovation is defined by accomplishing something you “couldn’t do.”
  • Be a naïve outsider – New to a subject area or project? Don’t be a wallflower. Ask the ‘naïve’ question – you just might stumble on the right solution.
  • Embrace constraints – Wait, you say, don’t put a leash on the creative process! Often times, though, constraints (money, time, resources, etc.) move the creative process forward and foster more creativity. Joel Loukus has some more thoughts on this.
  • Relax – Ever get an epiphany during your morning shower? Relaxing and taking your mind off the prize helps you find the solution.

These are just a few of the many ways to foster creativity. Embrace them and relish the fruits of your creativity.

This post originally appeared on ADG Creative’s Brain Juice, when Pantone released its first color based on and named after a movie character, Minion Yellow.

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