What Do You Want Your Business To Be?
Market leader? Trailblazer? Innovator of new products or services? Simply doing stuff so much better than everyone else that the competition can’t touch you? The most value added for customers with outstanding service?
Any or some of the above are perfectly valid reasons to want to transform a business or organisation and how it operates. However that is merely a desire. How you bring it into reality requires a little bit of magic.
A Little Bit of Magic
If I told you that anyone can come up with something magical in terms of the way their organisation functions would you believe me? It sounds impossibly difficult. For instance, if it was that easy, why haven’t you done it already?
The answer to both parts lies in the way in which people (dis)trust using processes which they didn’t design themselves. Instead of following a recipe (to coin a metaphor) they blunder around the ‘kitchen’ selecting ingredients at random and trying to get them to work together. Why on earth would you do that unless you have hours to spare and aren’t too worried about the resulting dish? The sensible cook will refer to a good recipe that has been tried and tested. The same applies to creativity and how to go about it. Once you get used to the various methods then you can start to play around a bit and combine them in new ways to be even more radical in the solutions they might deliver.
Or whatever expression of surprise and wonder springs to your lips when delivering the seemingly impossible. Even seemingly intractable problems are susceptible to the magic. Would you believe it possible if:
- Someone who wasn’t in the IT industry came up with an idea we would now recognise as internet banking and wealth management in the year after the World-Wide-Web was invented and the first web browser hadn’t even been produced?
- This was simply an exercise to design something that didn’t exist?
- It took no more than 45 minutes from start to finish?
In fact all three answers are absolutely true and it was the spring of 1990 in Portsmouth, UK.
- In just over an hour someone could come up with a power generation solution for large parts of sub-Saharan Africa that doesn’t rely on wind or fossil fuels and can work off-grid at any time of day or night? (Everyone else was thinking about using wind or solar but couldn’t figure out how to store the energy.)
This took place on a sunny November day in Blantyre, Malawi with input from a young local college graduate who was trying to persuade the World Bank to finance a feasibility study to deal with the power generation problems on Likoma Island, some 100 km from the Malawi shore of Lake Malawi but only 7km from Mozambique.
Tapping Into the Imagination
In order to do these (amazing) things you have to be able to tap into the imagination. There are a host of well-rehearsed techniques for doing just this. The strange thing is that most people in business have only heard of one or two and they often execute those abysmally so dismiss the whole area of creativity as “not for them”. If only they were a little more rigorous in the application…
Actually this is not a difficult thing to do at all. Using structured techniques combined with playfulness works pretty much every time. In over 30 years I’ve never known it to fail – so that says something about trusting the process. Moreover I find that others who are similarly engaged find it just as easy once they have someone to hold their hand the first couple of times.
Debunking the Myths
In order to leverage your own resources you should know that creativity is not the domain of a few enlightened souls. Literally anyone can use a series of techniques and develop creative ideas and solutions to even very complex problems. So that’s the first myth to debunk.
Secondly this doesn’t require lots of specialist equipment/software or space. In fact some of the best ideas have been produced using little more than a pad of paper, a couple of pens and some Post-It notes.
Thirdly you don’t need to have a great concept of what the result is going to look like before starting. In fact it’s better to have absolutely no preconceptions. So the boss instructing a solution that fits his/her idea of what is required is not helping in the slightest.
Finally, this requires years of practice and detailed understanding of the techniques involved. Simply wrong – the internet banking idea was worked out with a junior member of staff who had only been in his job in the Marketing Department for a couple of months. The power generation problem didn’t rely on any prior knowledge whatsoever.
What Is Required?
The ability to be playful and let the human brain do its stuff. Many of the structured techniques work because they actively stimulate different ways of thinking using the sub-conscious. We all have the capacity – much of it is hard-wired into what makes us who we are as a species.
So, on the assumption that there is a child in every one of us that is happy to play from time to time, the question arises “What are you waiting for?”
Practise Makes Perfect
It’s true – the more you get used to using these techniques the easier it becomes. Then something else interesting starts to happen. The brain starts to come up with more creative ideas on the spot – because it has become practised in delving into the sub-conscious and processing information. You become more adept at seeing possibilities in complex situations and that means better decision-making in general, not just when running a transformation.
Want to Make it Happen For YOU?
It’s no idle boast when I say that I’m world-class at using creativity techniques to come up with new ideas or products. More to the point I have decades of experience in coaching other business leaders how to engage the same techniques to their advantage. So if you want to know how to get this to work first time and every time – you need to get in touch. Contact us to get the conversation started on how you can learn to deal with the creative challenges facing your organisation.
Rob Wherrett can be contacted at https://robwherrett.com/contact/
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Alternatively those wanting a very quick online course in Creativity in Business can find one here: