How to Make Better Creative Decisions

A guide for improving creative decision making using nudges from our book Make Better Decisions.

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Being creative is hard. Creativity relies on thorough preparation but requires breaking rules. To be creative, you have to be able to challenge norms while respecting real boundaries. 

Our book Make Better Decisions has a whole section on how to enhance your creativity in decision making. In this highlight reel we show you how to tackle some of the major roadblocks to creativity with nudges to help you make better creative decisions.

What is creativity? We like to use Margaret Boden’s definitions for different types of creativity. Now in her eighties, she was one of the first academics to integrate thinking across the cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence. She identified three types of human creativity. 

Exploratory creativity works with what is already there but pushes it to its limits. She estimates that 97 percent of human creativity falls into this category. For example, when scientists run experiments or when an artist paints a new scene.

True creativity usually implies something unexpected. Boden’s terms this combinatorial creativity. This involves taking two completely different constructs and finding a way to use the framework or structure of one with the other. Chefs use this style of creativity when they come up with fusion food—think, sushi burrito. Entrepreneurs see ideas work in one industry and apply it to another—think how you could use an “Uber of babysitting.” 

Boden’s third style is—quite literally—a game changer. Transformational creativity is far more mysterious and elusive. University of Oxford professor Marcus Du Sautoy describes how these transformational moments hinge on changing the rules or dropping long-held assumptions about the way the world works. The meta rule for transformational creativity is to start dropping constraints and see what happens. “The creative act is to choose what to drop—or what new constraint to introduce—such that you end up with a new thing of value,” he writes. 

If you want to be more creative, you have to be able to explore new territory as well as exploit what you already know. We have nudges that help you have more insight and curiosity, to think beyond your own mind, and to face your fear of failure.

So we’ve assembled our favorite nudges from our book Make Better Decisions and paired them with some of the trickiest situations you face as a creative:

Creative Decision #1: Having More Insight

  • Nudge: Aha!
  • Nudge: Be More Curious

Creative Decision #2: Thinking Outside Your Head

  • Nudge: Be Less Brainbound
  • Nudge: Sketch

Creative Decision #3: Facing Your Fears

  • Nudge: Flow
  • Nudge: Have a Coach

Practice these nudges and we promise you’ll make better creative decisions.‍

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