Hacking Creativity - 4 Steps to Developing Your Creativity Muscle

December 24, 2020

According to the World Economic Forum, creativity is related to 9 of the top 10 skills that global executives say is essential for 2020 and beyond.

94% of hiring managers say it is important to consider creativity when hiring a job candidate. – Adobe, Hiring for the Future (2014)

Imagine being able to come up with ideas that make a difference and improve your quality of life both at work and home.

I have good news for you. 

Creativity is not reserved for artists.

In this article, I'm going to show you the four steps to hacking creativity. It will require out-of-the-box thinking, but I guarantee it will positively impact your life.

Before we dive into those four steps, I want to dispel the biggest myth about creativity.

Myth: Logic and Creativity Can't Coexist

Governments frown on creative accounting, and getting creative with scientific results has led to heartache for many people. Situations like this lead us to believe that logic and creativity can't coexist.

However, when Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, asked CEOs what skill they most valued in their people, they replied, "...their creativity, their ability to solve problems, come up with new solutions, use their brainpower to figure things out." [source]

Clearly, creativity is a desirable quality, even in careers that are not art or craft-based.

And the good news is that anyone can develop their creativity muscle and use it to find creative solutions to problems both at work and at home.

The system I've used to help my students discover and utilize their own creativity is called the Creativity Model.

In the example below, you'll see how it works for writing, but you can use this same process for any task that requires some creative thinking. This is how it works.

Four-Stages of Creativity

The creativity model below is used to help understand the stages of the creative process. To hack creativity, you'll need to work through each of the four stages. Each stage has an easy to follow framework that will guide your success - even if you are feeling uncreative.

1. Clarify

2. Ideate

3. Develop

4. Implement

1. Clarify

If you've ever gone to the store for something and come home with peanut butter, cheese, pizza, toilet paper, and your favorite chocolate bar, it's probably because you didn't clarify what you needed before you went.

The same goes for writing. You'll need to clarify your purpose before you dive into the writing assignment. Answering these three questions will get you on the right track.

Who is my audience?

Why will they read my composition?

What do I want them to do/know when they've finished reading it?

2. Ideate

With your audience in mind and a clear end goal, you're ready to ideate.

Imagine a wall full of sticky notes. Each sticky note contains one idea.

Not every idea on those sticky notes is a good one, but you'll need a wall full to come up with one workable idea.

You may need to have several ideate sessions to come up with enough ideas. Go until you run out of ideas, and then keep going.

Allow yourself to think beyond your usual ideas to what seem like crazy ideas. Often, the magic is found in one of those seemingly crazy ideas.

Next, we're going to move to the bottom of the creativity model, where we'll choose an idea and bring it to life.

3. Develop

You've got a wall full of ideas - but what do you do with them all?

Choose the best one.

Review the goals you set out when you clarified the assignment.

  • Who is my audience?
  • Why are they reading my composition?
  • What do I want them to know/do when they've finished reading it?

With those questions at the top of your mind, read through all your ideas.

Which ideas are the best fit?

You may have several ideas that seem to work. Keep them for later, and choose one idea as the focus of your current writing project.

It's time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and outline your composition. Outlining will help you expand and organize your idea in a way that gives your reader the knowledge they need to take action.

4. Implement

With outline in hand, you're ready for the final stage of the creative process - implementing.

Set a timer for 30-45 minutes and hammer out your first draft. It will be ugly. It will be messy. And, it will probably be full of errors. But when the timer beeps, you'll have a draft.

And, like Jodi Picoult says, "You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page."

Biggest Obstacle to Hacking Creativity

If you've made it this far - congratulations! The biggest obstacle to hacking creativity is working through each step.


  1. Clarify the end goal.
  2. Ideate - Come up with a lot of ideas.
  3. Plan - Create an outline.
  4. Implement - Write.

7-Step Writing Jumpstart Kit™

I invite you to download the free7-Step Writing Jumpstart Kit™. It's designed to help you hack creativity by walking you through each step of the creativity model.