Creativity in Programming

Do you need to be creative as an IT professional? Definitely yes, regardless of your job function. 

Maybe it's true when you are coding there are some convention and syntax that you need to follow, but outside of that

, it's all about creativity. In fact that is the only one reason why people get valued differently, it's their creativity and approach.

If we do a study test, and have 5 people try to solve it, they may come up with 10-20 solutions with wide range of possibilities. That's creativity in marketplace.

This is how I usually approach an issue.

  1. Write down the issue in a piece of paper
  2. Define the problem.
  3. Determine what part is controllable and what is not controllable
  4. Observe scope and boundaries

I write all the above in my notepad. I try to write it neatly and in a structured way because I periodically refer back to it when I draw my plan.

Now, this is when I let my creativity run at full force.
I take another piece of paper, usually a blank white sheet, not the notepad that has lines. For me personally, when I draw my solutions on a blank paper I don't feel constricted compared to using a lined sheet.

I draw diagrams, process map, responsible party chart, write notes, I just pour in whatever I have in my head to the paper. I use pencil most of the time so I can erase it easily for minor change. If at some point, I notice that it's not doable, I put the sheet aside and start with a new sheet. I don't throw away the other paper because some of the material can still be useful that I can just copy the information over.

Some people are great with diagramming, they can use Gliffy or Visio, but I found that using pen and paper is faster for me, I don't get slowed down by "How do I make this text line up with that section" and stuff like that.

Once I have everything down, and I have my vision on how I will approach the problem, I will check if all the resources that I need is available, I check for software, people that will help me, time that I have. Once it's all checked out, I re-write those data to a digital format in a more structured and formal way.

I noticed that the more time I spent in this phase, the lesser time I spent in the development side, because I have a clear picture of what need to be developed and what's not, so I am not wasting time on something that won't be useful or something that will cause a problem down the line.

In my opinion, the approach and implementation are the area where we need to be very creative. Time spend on building up the tool or report can be very short if you have the plan on paper that detail and visualize the whole approach.

Next week, I will write about how I think we started to put creativity aside when we get older compare to when we were kids. And what can we do to re-ignite our creativity.

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