The Creativity Leap

“Creativity is as individual as a snowflake.” – Jeff Benjamin - How to unleash curiosity, improvisation, and intuition at work.

Why creativity is critical today?

Because creativity is the essential asset to innovate, navigate through complexity and thrive in today VUCA world.

Signals or blind spots when your organisation can lag behind in this field:

  • “too big to fail” assumption and superiority complex that emerge when organizations find themselves at the head of the group. But where does that mindset come from? These firms don’t innovate quickly enough. They get complacent and stuck. Just think of Kodak.
  • when organizations get larger and more focused on risk management, they easily fall into what he calls “the tyranny of no.” “They solve for ‘no’ instead of for ‘yes.’ And solving for ‘yes’ is the foundation of creativity.

What is creativity leap and why it matters?

It is an active, dynamic process to bridge the gap between everyday work and very much sought-after innovation. Creativity leaps matters because creativity is the engine for innovation. It requires lots of energy, a vision, and trust in the unknown. It moves you only forward never backward. It is essential for crossing boundaries. You need to learn to appreciate the value of ‘sitting with discomfort’ which comes from the ambiguity and uncertainty of the process. It sometimes means building on mistakes like the creation of post-its by 3M.

How often have you heard people mutter, “Oh, I’m not a creative type”? Perhaps you’ve thought this yourself. This is a false because we are humans are hardwired to be creative. What is interesting based on the book called The Creativity Leap written by Natalie Nixon even analytical people has what it takes to be creative. Because anyone can be creative and anyone can become more creative by applying the 3 I’s (inquiry, improvisation, intuition).

Switching between curiosity and rigor

Creativity as the ability to switch between curiosity (capacity to exercise wonder, pausing, dreaming, and daring blue-sky thinking) and rigor (deep skill, attention to details, discipline, and time on task for mastery) in order to solve problems and deliver novel value. Inquiry, improvisation, and intuition as the practices that increase those capacities.


Curiosity results from an information gap. You want to know more about something you currently don’t understand. The inquire triggers the leap that bridges the gap. To help the inquiry process you should be self-reflective, frame and reframe questions, and use questions as a way of thinking through and processing. It requires trust and courage to challenge the status quo and ask questions which may appear to be not adequate, and even silly in the given situation, nevertheless, it can make a real shift in the process.

  • Ask ‘What if…..’ and ‘How…..’ questions. e.g. What if we partnered with our biggest competitor?
  • How often do you ask questions during the workday? What sorts of questions do you ask?
  • Prepare for meetings by writing down as many questions as you can related to the topic. Your last questions could be ‘What am I missing here?’ ‘What am I not seeing here?’ ‘What questions am I avoiding here?’
  • Purchase a magazine from a field you have utterly no interest in. Browse through it and identify at least three approaches or ideas that could be metaphors useful for your work.


It is about your ability to be present in the here and now, and to be responsive with those around you. Building on ideas within minimal constraints. Improvisation is not doing whatever you feel like; it has rules, fluid structures, that help you to embrace mistakes, be deeply observant, and be adaptive. Improvisation is all about remix. Examples of great improvisation are in jazz, rap, comedy, excellent sales/customer service experiences, and scientific experimentation.

  • Build on each other’s idea by using the ‘yes and’ technique within your team.
  • Embrace mistakes, look at mistakes as opportunities.
  • Use minimal structures to maximize flexibility like the Jazz musicians.


Intuition is the connection between the heart and mind, grounded in your gut. It is an internal wisdom, an unconscious pattern recognition and an insight for decision making. It is often what fuels us to finally make that creativity leap. To tap into your intuition, you have to slow down, create distance between yourself and the reality, or the topic at hand. You also must allow yourself to daydream.

  • Reflect on and journal about all of the times you have followed your heart. What was the result?
  • Even after we have a nudge of intuition, there is often a natural tendency to hold back, to analyse it, to check and see if it is right or if this is the right time to say something. But the most powerful moment is always the first one regarding intuition. You have to blurt it out and phrase it like ‘I wonder if…..’, ‘I have a hunch that……’ ‘My intuition tells me…’ ‘I’m not sure what the right words are here, but it’s something like…..’ etc.

Pick one or two techniques, exercises from above and do it every day consistently.

Source: The creativity leap - Unleash curiosity, improvisation, and intuition at work by Natalie Nixon, CRAFT Leadership Executive Solution by Beáta Kalamár

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