How To Innovate Better by Warming Up Your Creativity



“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

Your creativity works better when you have an open mind and your brain muscles are limber.

But how do you warm-up your brain so you are in a creative mode?

You can do creativity warm-up sessions to open your mind, stretch your imagination muscles, and get into your creative zone.  And it only takes 5-minutes!

In the book, Create in a Flash, Roger L. Firestien, PH.D., shares a simple way to warm up your creativity and inspire innovation.

Why Start with a Creativity Warm-Up Session

By warming up your creativity, you set the stage for generating ideas and exploring the art of the possible.

Think of creativity like a muscle that gets better with warm-ups.

When you warm up your creativity practice sessions, you break the ice.  This helps people transition into the creative space and think more freely.  You set the stage for a playful mind and a playful mind is a powerful tool for creating more innovative ideas.

3 Keys to a Creativity Warm-Up Session

When you start your idea generating sessions with a creativity warm-up, you practice brainstorming, you switch gears to think differently, and you help get over the judgment hump.

Firestien writes:

“First, to briefly train the group in the brainstorm method.

Second, to ‘sanction’ the time for speculation.  In this session we are going to think differently than how we have been thinking up to this time.  This is the time to look for unusual ideas.

Finally, we do a warm-up exercise to create a judgment-free zone.  There’s no judging when you are generating ideas.”

How To Warm Up Your Creativity

To manage the creativity warm-up session, it helps to have somebody be the facilitator.  Their job is to manage the process and keep the group on track.  

Here is the process according to Firestien:

  1. Review the guidelines for generating ideas (below)
  2. Present the problem to be solved worded as a creative question
  3. The group generates ideas following the idea-generating guidelines

Word creative questions by starting with the words, “How to…,” “How might…,” “In what ways might I…,” or “What might be all the…?”

As people voice ideas, stick them on a flipchart or participants write them down and share them with the facilitator.  No judging, just write down all the ideas.  You can always evaluate later, but at this point, you want to simply get ideas flowing.

Give the group a quota and a time limit.  For example, Firestien likes to set a quota of 25 ideas and a time limit of 5 minutes.

Guidelines for Generating Ideas

Here are the guidelines for generating ideas according to Firestien:

  1. Defer judgment
  2. Strive for quantity
  3. Seek wild and unusual ideas
  4. Build on other ideas

If you start judging at this stage, you’ll shut down the creative voices and inner innovators for the group.  There is no shortage of daily critics and nay-sayers. 

Criticism is easy and we practice every day.  Creativity is the tougher muscle to build and we don’t practice it enough.

Keep ideas flowing.  If you get stuck, simply remind and encourage yourself by saying, “Imagine if you knew the answer…” or “Well, what if you did know…” or “What if you could…”

Examples of Creative Questions for Your Warm Up

When you warm up your creativity, you just need a creative question that is an unusual challenge that stretches your imagination in new ways.

Keep it simple and make it fun.

Here are some examples of creative questions according to Firestien:

  • What might be all the ways to improve a refrigerator?
  • How to get a hippopotamus out of a bathtub?
  • What might you do with ten tons of orange Jell-O?
  • How to get a bear out of my living room?
  • How to get a raccoon out of a mini-van?
  • What might you do with 50,000 bowling balls that are flat on one side?

Creative Question are Silly by Design

Don’t let the silliness stop you.  You need to have fun and play with ideas so that your inner-critic can get out of the way of your inner innovator.

Firestien writes:

“Most warm-up exercises are admittedly silly.  They’re designed that way on purpose.  The subjects are common and non-threatening.  Many of the ideas suggested will be absurd or impractical. That’s exactly the imaginative mindset the group needs when they eventually approach the ‘serious’ problem.  Don’t let the ‘silly’ factor deter you.”

The key to all this is comes down to opening up your mind, stretching your imagination, deferring judgment, and making it safe to be silly.

Silly will support your serious innovation, and that’s why it’s a warm-up routine to get your creative juices flowing.

You Might Also Like

3 Ways to Unleash Innovation in Your Organization
How To Become an Innovator
How Peter Drucker Set Goals for Innovation
How To Get Innovation to Succeed Instead of Fail
You Don’t Need Goofy Innovation Techniques to Innovate


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here