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27 Principles of Creative Leadership

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Creative leadership is the direction of teams to produce value that transcends the obvious, static and routine. This requires an individual to take the lead on processes that involve much ambiguity, risk, experimentation and critical analysis. The goal is to create strategy, designs and solutions that are inventive, high value and refined. The following are basic principles of creative leadership.
Define the Problem
How you frame the problem changes the entire creative process.
Redefine the Problem
Revisit the problem definition as required. Creativity isn't a sequential process.
Challenge Assumptions
Identify and challenge assumptions.
Optimistic Flow
Brainstorm in an optimistic way without critical analysis.
Conceptual Blending
Combining two seeming opposites to see what happens.
Defensive Pessimism
Validate generated ideas in a pessimistic way with critical analysis.
Reverse Brainstorming
Brainstorm how things could go wrong with a strategy, plan, decision or design.
Collaborative Creativity
Generate ideas in a constructive way as a group.
Creative Control
Never make creative decisions as a group. Assign clear creative control to one person.
Creative Intuition
The observation that some people just seem to have a creative spark they can’t explain in words.
Creative Direction
Investing creative control in an individual with a track record of success with creative projects and decisions.
Analogical Thinking
Use analogies to simply the complex.
Creativity of Constraints
Constraints may push you to find a more creative solution.
Risk Taking Culture
Cultivate an environment where calculated risk taking is rewarded and reasonable failures are understood.
Fail Well
Experiment often and design experiments to fail safe, cheap and quick.
Throwaway Prototypes
Build cheap prototypes to test ideas.
Evolutionary Prototypes
Build advanced and refined versions of future products.
Focus for long periods of time to achieve creative flow.
Sit in a room as a group until a work product is done.
Unconscious Processing
Take a break and allow your mind to process hard problems.
Creative Tension
Groups that argue may be more creative than groups that work to maintain group harmony.
Breaking Routines
Break groups out of their routine to increase creativity.
Systems Thinking
Consider unintended consequences of change to complex systems.
Cognitive Flexibility
Listen to others and be open minded even when you think they are wrong.
Rabbit Holes
Follow tangents of curiosity.
Engaged Immersion
Engage users, customers and the culture surrounding your products or industry.
First Principles
Use foundational principles to guide your thinking.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about creativity.
Creative Ability
Creative Class
Creative Direction
Creative Economy
Creative Expression
Creative Feedback
Creative Hobbies
Creative Industries
Creative Intuition
Creative Leadership
Creative Process
Creative Productivity
Creative Quality
Creative Spark
Creative Tension
Creative Things
Creative Thinking
Creative Value
Creative Works
Creativity Theory
Divergent Thinking
Idea Generation
Intellectual Diversity
Inventive Step
Magical Thinking
Metaphysical Conceit
Motley Crew
Preserving Ambiguity
Reverse Brainstorming
Thought Experiment
Work Creativity
More ...
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