Fuel Injected In-house: Mental Motion For Your Muse

If inspiration isn’t moving you, maybe you’re not moving around.

By Sam Harrison

Rodney Smith is famous for his captivating black-and-white images. The New York City photographer says that before shooting any assignment, he slowly moves around his subject, searching for an emotional connection. He wants to see the model or still life in a unique, visceral way.

The practice of moving around – searching for emotional connections – fuels everyday creativity. As an in-house creative, are you moving about your organization, searching for insights and emotional connections? Are you seeking to see employees, customers and managers in fresh ways and look at life through their eyes?

Here are three ways to wander and watch for creativity’s sake:

1. Look beyond usual frames of reference. Step outside boundaries imposed by your circle of friends, co-workers and suppliers. Visit other departments. Have lunch with different crowds. Spend time with new vendors.

2.  Travel the highways. In my workshops and books, I urge people to see more creatively by traveling down blue highways and lonesome highways.

Blue highways are the smaller, less-traveled roads traditionally shown in blue ink on printed maps. Travel blue highways in your world to shake up scenery. Take new roads to work, enter at a building’s loading dock, detour down different hallways. Set yourself up to see unusual things.

Lonesome highways are those room-for-one routes we need to travel from time to time. Because we tend to notice small details when traveling without the distraction of others, whether it’s a business trip, weekend getaway or hour at the neighborhood coffee shop. In those moments of solitude, follow Staislavski’a acting method of “looking with penetration” and record observations in your notebook.

3. See through other eyes. When people-watching, pay attention to facial expressions. Ponder what the owners of those faces are seeing and thinking. Show your work to people outside your team and ask for honest reporting on what they see before them. Imagine working in other departments and think about how you would view the organization and its products if you saw things through their lens. Pretend you are a manager, c-suite executive, customer – and view their challenges, values and day-to-day roles.  Look from different angles to find emotional connections.

If we are awake, says Natalie Goldberg, the whole world is shimmering and giving us insights. Wake up your eyes and watch the world around you provide idea-sparking resources.

Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His latest book, IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, was recently released by HOW Books. He is also the author of IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command.