A shopkeeper panicked when a new business like his opened next door and put up a huge sign that read, “Best Deals.”
He panicked when another business competitor opened his other side and announced his arrival with an even bigger sign reading “LOWEST PRICES.”
The shopkeeper panicked, until he realized. He put up the biggest sign on his shop. It read “Main Entrance”.
There is no substitute for creativity. That shopper could have spent a year’s worth of profits on advertising campaigns, mailings, giveaways, you name it, and probably wouldn’t have made as big of an impact. A stroke of brilliance kept his profession humming.
There is no correlation between IQ and creativity. Everyone has the ability to be more creative than they think. The key is developing a mindset that enables one to see things from a new perspective.
Creativity and innovation are critical to business success. If your organization needs to allocate the necessary resources to support a creative environment, consider these factors:
money Creativity and innovation cannot breathe in an environment of budget cuts and downsizing. You can generate creative ideas to overcome lack of funds. But in the long run, you won’t get many viable ideas unless you’re willing to spend cash developing and testing them.
Elbow room. Cramming people into tight little cubicles is no way to get their imaginations working. Give them room to roam: conference rooms to spread out, windows to look out, and the freedom to work in diverse environments that spark innovative ideas and insights. In this age of working from home, be open to allowing people to escape the distractions of the office to do some brainstorming outside the confines of the workplace.
Independence. Part of this has to do with the issue of space – the freedom to operate in a non-traditional environment. But more important is the freedom to suggest changes and question assumptions. People say, “But that’s not how we do things around here.” Keep your eye on the prize and think of innovative ways to reach that goal.
danger. Remember how many times Thomas Edison tested his first lightbulb? You can’t generate creative thinking if people don’t feel comfortable taking chances and failing. You must bear intelligent risk—and even celebrate failure—if people behave in good faith when trying to help the organization grow. Failure is not fatal; It’s just proof that there is another solution.
Advertising genius Alex Osborne, considered the “Father of Brainstorming,” dedicated his life to promoting and teaching creative thinking. He believed that the worst enemy of creativity is criticism: “Creativity is a flower that praise makes it bloom, while disappointment often nips it in the bud. Any of us will come up with more and better ideas if our efforts are appreciated.”
Make creativity a core value. Every business can benefit from creative thinking. Talk about the power of ideas and the benefits of innovation. Provide meaningful training to people’s thinking. Reward creative efforts, even if they fail. Even a small tweak can make a big difference.
As a manager, it is important that you model creative thinking. If your staff hears you express non-traditional ideas, they will be more inclined to share their ideas.
Mackay’s Moral: A spark of creativity can spark pulsating business success.
Harvey McKay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or email [email protected]