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Creativity. It’s a quality that nearly every business strives for. Yet, a lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to unlock those sources of creativity. Likewise, employees often feel that they have the right ideas that could help the company, but are unable to find a way to vent them.
The strong-held belief that creativity only deals with the ‘artistic’, with visual ideas or with art itself is blatantly wrong. Creativity is everywhere, in all areas of a business. It’s a way of looking at things, of solving certain problems and of using influences and inspiration to create something new.
Creativity calls for an almost childlike mindest: most innovative solutions come from questioning even the most self-evident truths. Breaking old habits is an important factor in this process. Doing things another way, doing new things and breaking conventions all provide oxygen to the brain. A good idea rarely comes out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s a combination of old things with the addition of something new. Often you just need time to contemplate an idea.
It’s important for businesses to consider that anyone can have a good idea, from the doorman to the CEO. That’s why a key factor is to limit the compartmentalization in your organisation, so that everyone can talk to everyone else and ideas can be brought to the surface. Cooperation between people who are not usually in touch with each other can often lead to fantastic new insights.
Make sure to create a protective environment. One in which people feel free to vent ideas without being subject to pitying stares or immediate criticism. That requires mutual trust and respect, which is not something you can enforce, but which needs time to develop and grow. The role of management in this process is quite clear: your job is not to prevent risks, because if you never take any risks, your business most likely will remain stagnant. Your goal should be to provide guidance and to make sure that failures get corrected the right way.
Try to take out some time for a short 10 minute creative session at regular intervals. Let your collaborators write down all the ideas and thoughts they have about your product, brand or company. Ask them to sketch how they view the brand or company. This can result in some really interesting imagery. To kickstart the creative sessions, you could ask participants to find a way to connect two random objects. Or ask them which sport, car or person they associate with your brand or company. This often triggers the subconscious, and that’s exactly where the best ideas are usually hidden.
Finally: there is no shame in letting yourself be inspired by great examples. Every great writer or painters of the past did the same thing. So no harm in wondering how your competitor or colleague would go about in handling a problem.