October Book Review: Cultivating creativity among your dental team

October 9, 2012

Author Jonah Lehrer's "Imagine: How Creativity Works" breaks down ways staff members can contribute creative ideas, lending their imaginations to a thriving dental practice.

Author Jonah Lehrer's "Imagine: How Creativity Works" breaks down ways staff members can contribute creative ideas, lending their imaginations to a thriving dental practice.

Dental Products Report editors have compiled a list of must-read books with your dental practice in mind. The concepts and ideas conveyed through each book can easily translate into your dental practice, among your staff and even your patients.

This month's book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works" by Jonah Lehrer, is reviewed by Linda Steeves, RDH.

Steeves is a HygieneFusion consultant, coach and mentor. Steeves works as a clinical hygienist and also assists dental offices and dental hygienists to achieve a higher potential.

Dental practices flourish when new, creative ideas are introduced and implemented. These creative ideas happen when one of the most important mental talents, the ability to imagine what has never existed, is used. The question becomes, how do we encourage these creative ideas to surface? The author states that an important key to creativity becomes the environment in which the staff of a business is placed when exploring new ideas. The environment needs to permit the light bulbs to go off in the heads of staff members, allowing imagination to begin. This obviously supports the premise of dental staff retreats or at the very least, lengthy staff meetings away from the usual work environment. When we are out of our comfortable environment, we can brainstorm and exchange exciting possibilities. Often times, we expect dynamic ideas to be thought up during average staff meetings, only to be disappointed by discussing usual circumstances.

Spontaneity is an extremely valuable source of creativity. Allowing our staff to risk embarrassment, ask silly questions and leave the safety of our expertise will ultimately lead to “moments of insight." These moments will allow us to transform mental blocks into breakthroughs and creative ideas to transform our businesses. Lehrer states that one of the most surprising ways to cultivate this creativity is through travel. When physically we are near to the source of a problem or mental block of creativity, our thoughts are automatically constricted. The ideas that we suppressed in our usual environment are allowed to surface when we escape from the place we spend most of our time. Meetings that are held in our office environment generally focus on the facts at hand and inhibit imagination.  

This book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works," also praises the power of a group. Not necessarily is collaboration of people as important to a group, but rather sharing our ideas to conquer seemingly impossible problems or developing new ideas. Lehrer stated, “We can all work together or fail alone." Clearly, it becomes the power of conversations between people that yield more new ideas.

For example, when Steve Jobs was with Pixar, he hosted several brainstorming retreats. He also physically configured the interior design of the Pixar offices so that people would be forced to have conversations and thus be more creative. Many other companies have followed this model. I am sure you can now see that one of the important places in any office is the break room so ideas can be exchanged.

"Imagine: How Creativity Works" explores how creativity and innovation in a business are incorporated to yield profitable success. Our brains are the place where imagination begins. Think of those times of creative thoughts you may have had during a warm shower or simply day dreaming. This is the natural state of creativity, however the power of creativity emerges in the coming together of people with those ideas. The author cites several business examples representing times when imagination and creativity were encouraged and developed as a group. Consequently, those businesses did soar to new heights. Dental practices could restructure and encourage creativity and imagination. Just imagine the chance of soaring to new heights and putting the excitement back into our practices.

Imagination is too important to be ignored. If your interest has piqued about how your business can encourage creativity and how this can impact your dental practice, then you may want to consider reading this book. "Imagine" provides some interesting thoughts on creativity and group brainstorming. We all should think out of the box at times and share those thoughts and ideas with others.