Creative Thinking for Business
Creative Thinking E-book
7. Being Creative Is “Not My Job”
Is creativity only for the marketing department and the R&D folks? Far from it! Creativity is needed in every business function and discipline. Creativity and innovation can be applied to all types of process and procedures as well as marketing campaigns and product designs. Purchase order processing, accounts payable, inventory reporting, sales forecasts, and quality inspections to name a few. These are all great candidates for creative ideas and techniques. And they’re great ways to do some team building too.
Remember earlier when I said a “Creativity Expert” is not necessarily the best person to come up with new ideas? Fresh minds often work better. And if you can also use this as a tool to build your team and get extra bang for your buck, why not do it?
Here are some ideas. Set up a creativity meeting. Invite several people from another department. The less “tainted” they are (remember pattern recognition?), the better.
These “strangers” are your best bet for generating new ideas. The PhD who has been in the department for 20 years is your worst bet. Conduct your meeting by focusing on what fresh, new creative ideas these strangers bring to the table. Do not allow criticism of their ideas! Use the brainstorming techniques rules and guidelines to keep the creative juices flowing.
Inviting these “strangers” to help with your work is called “cross fertilization.” It’s the same concept as taking a stranger to lunch to help you solve your business issue or problem; only this is in a group setting. Explain the problem to the group and ask them how they would fix it. Do not elaborate on the things you have tried and how it is impossible to fix. Just give them the basics of the problem, be quiet, and listen to what they have to say.
Many industries and people experience the same type of issues even though they are very different in the product or service they provide – and communication barriers in organizations often prevent these ideas from being shared. Just listen up. You may learn how they solved a similar problem in the past that could apply to your situation.
Don’t have a group of people to ask? Try this approach. Think about what outside people, places, activities, and situations you use to stimulate your own creative thinking. Ninety-five percent of the things you do are exactly the same, day in and day out. You probably read the same magazines, watch the same sitcoms, hang out with the same people, and participate in the same activities you have for years. Throw a couple of new things in your life. And while you’re trying something new, consciously think about what you are learning and experiencing and how that could be applied to solve a current problem or issue at hand. Start with something easy and work your way up.
Question things that you do and what you ask for. Recruiting ads often say, “We are looking for a senior executive that can bring innovative and creative ideas to our organization and help us expand and grow our market share.”
Then the job description reads something like this.
Position: GM of “Precision Surgical Instruments”
15+ years in the medical industry with specific experience in surgical instrument manufacturing. Minimum 5 years of surgical instrument design. General practice MD required
OBST Certified. 10+ years experience with one of the top three surgical instrument providers; PMS, ACT, or OSE
Now what is the chance of the person meeting these requirements and also having the ability to bring creative and innovative ideas to this company? Slim. This company is trying to hire someone who looks, thinks and acts exactly like them, and who has had the same experiences. It’s not likely a person meeting the requirements of this position will bring new and innovative ideas to help grow the company’s market share.
Be an explorer and actively pursue new experiences and activities. They are a great resource for creative solutions to old problems and soon being creative will be a big part of your job.