Creativity is not confined to the arts, music or other non-practical occupations. It is imperative that creativity is brought to bear in all forms of business including the tangible ‘hard’ industries such as engineering or house building.
One of the most common sayings I hear from business on my travels is ‘we have always done it that way’ or ‘that’s what is expected’. Do the unexpected. Allow time for creativity to flow and you’ll be surprised at its results.
Creativity is communication
For example: I have watched (luckily not been affected by) the Southern Rail debacle in the past year. I have watched as government tried not to get drawn into the argument, as Southern Rail could not see beyond the fact they think they are right and the unions are stopping progress, and the unions pulling out the old chestnut of ‘Strike’. None of them seem very good at talking to each other to find a solution together.
It is everyone’s right to have and express their opinion but when it snarls up the very process they are supposed to deliver it’s just plain stupid.
They need to be more creative. First expand their thoughts away from their entrenched own roles and look at the entire problems as a whole, and from each of their perspectives. Conversation around, firstly, what might be tried (rather than looking for the solution straight away) that would offer acceptable compromise and progress for all parties. Once everyone is inputting ideas you can then sift through and explore each thread retaining the ones that might have a chance of working. From there hypothetically imagine the threads in place and re-look at the situation again from afar and as a whole. Does it work? If not hone back in and replace/discard or take up new threads. Keep repeating the process until everyone is happy that a workable solution for all is emerging and then you are ready to concentrate on the developing the final solution.
Being creative together is what will ultimately resolve their problems and discourage it happening again. (Of course I am assuming that there are no ulterior motives on the side of each party)?
I love the quote “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous” as it shows us how we often get stuck in the mundane. The, do it the same way approach can stagnate a company’s progress.
Creativity can get you unstuck
Sometimes a business finds itself losing ground to its competitors, inch by inch and they cannot seem to see why? They argue that the competition has a better, newer product and there is nothing they can do about it. British Airways had to really pull their socks up after Branson launched Virgin Airlines, he shook up the established way of doing things. It was NOT just about being cheaper; he came at the whole travel business from a creativity approach.
Being stuck at an okay level of business, just about making profit but not moving forwards cries out for creativity to tackle the problem. If the old way of thinking isn’t working, then why carry on thinking that way? This can show itself in unexpected ways. B&Q turned traditional recruitment on its head by deliberately recruiting older employees rather than younger, supposedly cheaper more eager ones. Older employees had experience of DIY, they had done it, several times over in their own lives. They were more knowledgeable and approachable with customers, giving good advice and making them feel comfortable.
Often within a company there are people with ideas as to how to improve things, they just never get asked. Creativity is not confined to the marketing department, or the senior management. Tapping into the creativity of your workforce means being open to suggestions from anyone. A good idea is still good regardless of where it comes from. If a company is struggling, then pride and status needs to be junked! Be humble, accept ideas wherever they are available, drop the hierarchical approach and get everyone on board. It is incredibly motivating for employees to feel their opinions matter and lurking in there could well be the idea that saves the company.