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Cara Faye : Craft for Innovation's Sake

Craft for Innovation's Sake

By Cara Faye

Much is currently being made of the link between art and innovation. After years of focusing on maths and sciences, even authorities in our education system are recognizing that increasing programs in and promotion of creative subjects is necessary to unlock our country's vast potential.

Innovation can be described as a quantum leap in thinking — an indefinable change from viewing a set of tools, materials and constraints in one set way, to a new and exciting view that solves one set of challenges, and introduces a new set of possibilities. When we apply lateral thinking to our systems, tools and processes, we maximize the benefit they're already giving us.

Often we are too stuck in routine, driven along by overwhelming workloads and deadlines, to give ourselves the time and space to think about how we could be doing things differently. We make time to exercise and look after our bodies, but forget to exercise our minds as well. Creativity is the key to unlocking innovation, and creative exercise is the key to accessing creativity.

For true balance, we all need to spend some time every day in at least a state of imaginative contemplation. Doodling is the closest most of us get to this, but to engage in a focused exercise with a specific outcome, involving selecting materials and applying techniques and processes, so closely echoes the similar challenges we face in our daily lives that it's a perfect way to focus our minds for innovative thinking.

Working in a craft workshop, we quickly realize that there are many ways to apply colour and form for different effects. A simple look around at what everyone else has created — from the same tools and materials — shows that there are many ways to use the resources we have at hand, and that different processes will achieve different results. And of course there's the confidence boost we receive when we hold in our hands something we have created.

Taking these discoveries back to our 'drawing boards' at work, we can begin to apply them in our more 'mundane' projects, bringing fresh ideas to unresolved problems and exploring and uncovering new avenues of opportunity.

Exercising the creative side of our brain in a pressure-free environment for pure fun and relaxation allows us to start forming the creative habits we need to allow us to develop mental fitness and break out of old routines. It also helps us to develop self belief and trust in our own abilities to solve problems creatively. We start to bring creativity into our daily lives, and this ultimately gets us firmly on the road to innovation. •

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