What busy people can learn about creativity from bumblebees.

You know my favorite way of being creative?  I call it “bumblebee sex.” It’s an effective, efficient, perfectly natural way to think creatively. Particularly for when you’re crazy busy.  Which is like – what? – 90% of the time?

You’ve seen bumblebees going from flower to flower. They think they’re sampling the buffet of sweet nectars from the garden. The flowers know better. They’re creating.

That’s a great way to work out a creative challenge. Or better yet, a few challenges at once.

Besides being one of the most effective and efficient paths to fresh ideas, and in spite of it’s seeming on-again/off-again appearance, this method is also a pretty fast way to find creative solutions.

Like my little winged friend in the striped jacket who buzzes from rose to daisy, daisy to mum, working on this creative challenge, then that one, then another, then back to one of an earlier one, and so forth… Buzzing around… Picking up pollen here, depositing it there… It’s really quite a dynamic way of bringing creativity to your thinking.

We all already do this to one degree or another.  It’s what we’re doing when we’re not applying direct creative energy to a problem.  The between moments, of which we have many.  But do we do it consciously?  Do we make it a part of our creative process?

This way of thinking doesn’t cost a nickel and it doesn’t take much time. Actually it usually saves tons of time. Plant your creative topic on the back burner of your mind, then go do something else. Your subconscious mind is always working on it even when you’re not aware of it. That’s what accounts for those ideas you get seemingly out of nowhere. You do do this. But, again, do you do it consciously and consistently as part of your creative routine? Why not?

Fresh ideas don’t come from the same place as logically deduced ideas. Thinking through a creative problem directly in real time is rarely the best way to find a truly original solution. But in this ultra busy, get-it-done-now business world, we often have little choice. I suggest you try picking up a little pollen from this challenge and go place it on that.  Do the rounds in your idea garden, and see what blossoms.

© Tom Monahan, Before & After

Tom Monahan is founder of Before & After Inc., a company specializing in training business people to think more creatively and facilitating brainstorming sessions.  B&A works with major marketers and ad agencies worldwide, including Target, Virgin Atlantic, Budweiser and Unilever, among others. Previously Tom was a founder and ECD at Leonard/Monahan, a major incubator for advertising creative talent. Tom has published The Do-it-yourself Lobotomy for John Wiley & Sons, under the Adweek imprint, he was advertising columnist for Communication Arts for over a decade and was written up in The Wall Street Journal’s long-running “creative leaders” series.