• Guest Blogger Patty Flauto

Meet My Creativity Mantras: “What if?” and “Why not?”

Patty Flauto has had “innovation” and “creativity” in her job description her entire career. Developing new ideas and finding practical ways to implement them is her passion.

Patty Flauto is a creativity consultant. She has years of business experience in entrepreneurship, product design and innovation. Her training and development sessions provide companies with practical solutions to create and sustain a culture of innovation in any organization.

Patty speaks frequently on a wide variety of topics that challenge her audiences to “get unstuck” and to harness the power of their “idea assets”.

She is currently principal of creativity + innovation + design, a company she started 7 years ago to develop innovative products and processes for her clients.


Meet My Creativity Mantras: “What if?” and “Why not?”

Please believe me when I tell you that creativity is a skill, not a talent. Everyone can learn to be a more creative thinker and a more effective “idea person”. Becoming proficient at anything takes time and practice and learning to be a fluid and flexible thinker is no exception. Let’s explore some three things that explain why my mantras never let me down.



a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason

Examine your routines.

Routines can be good, but not if you want to come up with new ideas. While it’s true that routines make us more efficient, they might not be the best approach for stimulating new thought. Routines are fixed and they become automatic. They are put in to place as a way to get something done without thinking too much. Routine thinking is not new thinking.

Routines are a bit boring. Routines are “the box”. Look at one of your days closely and notice if “routines rule”. Is your world a “fixed program”? Have you applied an efficient routine to everything you do? You’ll have more new ideas and more innovative ideas if you can try a new approach.

What if you skipped the “regular procedures”? Do something different today. Why not?


form a mental image or concept of believe (something unreal or untrue) to exist or be so just suppose

If you can imagine it, you can start to make it happen.

Many great inventions can be traced to a single person imagining something that didn’t exist. One of my favorite stories is about Marty Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone. He imagined that he wanted and needed a personal “communicator”, just like the ones on Star Trek! Over time, as an engineer for Motorola, his vision became a reality. (read more at: http://inventors.about.com/cs/inventorsalphabet/a/martin_cooper.htm)

Practice “imagining” in your next idea session. Instead of trying to solve a problem (overwhelming), try to imagine a future state (interesting).

Your clients or customers may have given feedback that seems like an impossible challenge. You may have found yourself saying, “I wish I had, I need, etc.” just like Marty Cooper. These are the perfect opportunities to practice idea generation in a new way.

Start your idea session with “What if” and fill in the blanks from there. Don’t worry so much if you are not being realistic and practical. You do that everyday. Try something new. Why Not?



form an idea of; imagine or conceive form ideas; think

Give yourself some time to think.

Thinking differently involves two distinct phases. First activate your “dreamer” and learn to diverge. Diverging is a way to explore the idea from as many angles as possible without trying to solve the problem.

After there are enough ideas to choose from and you have thoroughly explored the topic, move into convergent thinking and activate your “analyst” to decide which ideas are worth pursuing.

During my workshops, I find that most groups rely wholly on the convergent or problem solving phase. If you skip the idea generation phase (diverging), you won’t have any new ideas to choose from. In my sessions, we use a variety of techniques and methods to develop ideation skills. Everyone can learn to be a more creative thinker and a more effective “idea person.” I see it happening in all of the groups that I work with and in a very short period of time.

Practice some new ideation techniques. Move beyond the flip chart.

Why Not? What if you tried a new technique?

See Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko for tons of brainstorming techniques.

Thinking more creatively requires a mindset change. Getting good at it requires developing some new skills. You can expand your creative confidence with a bit of knowledge and practice. You can be the idea person!

Creative thinking will give you more options. More options and solutions will allow you to choose the best solution.

Develop your own creative mantras that will engage you and keep you interested for what lies ahead. My mantras have never let me down. They keep me inspired and motivated and (mostly) able to innovate daily.

Edward de Bono, father of lateral thinking said, “Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”