How to stimulate creativity

Harvard Business School prof Teresa Amabile says that, when possible, managers should avoid tight deadlines for creative projects. She has found that creative people may feel productive on high-pressured days, but their ideas won’t be inspired.

New York designer Ayse Birsel, whose clients include Herman Miller Inc., the Ikea Group and Toyota Motor Corp., has a tip for jumpstarting the creative process. “Find seven things on your desk at your studio, office, or home and make something with them,” she advises. “Try to pick random objects, different materials, and varying sizes, and don’t think, just do! You’ll improvise as you go.”