This post on Creativity applied to Physical Therapy was inspired by Scott Belsky’s tweet: “Strategy before tactics… AND mission before strategy.” This can be simplified to “Why > What > How.” Let’s begin with The Mission: Why.
With our Healthcare industry in flux we find ourselves in the midst of potent opportunity. The convergence of data-driven Evidence Based Practice and Financial bottlenecks will drive our profession through intersections of uncertainty. Such contingency of events warrant Creative progression from within the profession, especially the independent entrepreneurs. New business models, underutilized and currently non-existent collaborations, all lay in wait of a suitor.
Twitter hashtags such as #solvePT, #bizPT, and #brandPT foster creative potential via social media collaborations. I encourage all physical therapists (and soon-to-be PT’s) to join the conversations online. This #solvePT discussion on business models is one of my favorites; click on “transcript” in the left menu.
The Mission: nurture the exploration of underutilized and uncharted territories to solidify and expand the role and value of Physical Therapy.
Necessary ingredients in the Strategy of conception of novel ideas includes 1) The Suspension of Disbelief and 2) Projective Thinking. Often times new concepts require a dose of science fiction and free thinking unhindered by mainstream conventions. A little disbelief draws one into a world full of possibilities beyond obvious roadblocks resulting in something unimaginable, yet strangely obvious. Think of Steve Jobs combining design and computers, Elon Musk combining solar power and automobiles, Jeff Bezos with Amazon, etc. Moving beyond “can it be done” to “how can I make it happen” requires an strong dose of Suspension of Disbelief. Even scientific beliefs and “facts” aren’t immune to the Suspension of Disbelief; look here (Youtube video) and here.
“Projective Thinking” was coined by Edward de Bono “to describe generative thinking rather than reactive thinking.” Linda Stone writes:
… reactive use of intelligence narrows our vision. In contrast, projective thinking is expansive, “open-ended,” and speculative, requiring the thinker to create the context, concepts, and the objectives.
Thought experiment: What conventional excuses do physical therapists come up with that prevent them from progressing or expanding their profession? Are they truly barriers? Dissolve these barriers. What new possibilities arise? How would you change your practice of Physical Therapy if money were not an issue? Think through this everyday. Write down your ideas in a notebook (see #2 in the next section).
Tactics. Experiment with these 3 ideas to jump-start your creativity:
1. Morning Routine – ego depletion is real, so perform your most intensive & creative tasks in the morning. Reduce early morning decision making by automating your morning routine, thereby conserving your willpower for the most demanding parts of your day. Save the mundane paperwork for later in the day.
2. Keep a notebook – Steve Jobs said “Creativity is just connecting things.” Keeping a little pocket-sized notebook with you at all times provides the opportunity to generate a list of things to connect. This insures you don’t forget unique thoughts and ideas. In just a few weeks you have a basket of ideas to review and connect in ways you could have otherwise overlooked.
3. Forced Perception – Stefan Sagmeister is famously unorthodox and creative. When asked how he comes up with breakthrough ideas, he responded:
“One trick I use a lot is to think about a problem from a totally different point of view… The idea is that you take a starting point that has nothing to do with the project itself… starting with someone, or somewhere, else is basically a trick to fool the brain out of thinking in repetition.”
Thought Experiment: Write down names of 5 (new) people/relationships that can form symbiotic relationships with your practice as a Physical Therapist to push beyond conventional boundaries. Think about Physical Therapy from their Point of View. How can you benefit each other? Go through this thought experiment every Sunday.
“There’s no time like the present; no present like time” (Georgia Byng), so practice these ideas, exercise your creative muscles, and push boundaries.
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