2. Practice breaking the rules. “To learn how to act creatively, you have to violate norms,” Staw says. Practice breaking the rules with harmless violations that might be embarrassing or uncomfortable, like asking to read a poem over the loudspeaker at the grocery store, or offering to help the usher hand out programs at a play.
It’s okay if you get shot down — the point is to get comfortable trying options that most people would rule out immediately. Staw calls these “lessons in chutzpah” because they help you gather the nerve to take creative risks. Just thinking of rules to bend promotes creativity because you force your brain out of its comfort zone.
You can also look for ways that others are breaking norms. For example, Staw’s son discovered that teenage girls like mismatched socks, so he created LittleMissMatched, a colorful teen clothing line.
3. Make a list of things that bother you. As you go about your day, Staw suggests creating a “bug list,” or a list of annoyances. You might list slow internet or noisy air conditioner units. “Usually, if something has bothered you, that means there’s a hole in the service,” Staw says.
By thinking of possible solutions, you may stumble on a product opportunity. For example, one frustrated inventor created a stemware tether to stop wine glasses from chipping in the dishwasher.