Everyone can benefit from applying creativity.
Start by defining the problem you want to solve. This is your creative challenge, and it expresses where you want to end up. Like the picture of a finished jigsaw puzzle, the creative challenge will help you develop new ideas and improve existing ones.
The creative process
The creative process doesn’t follow a restrictive map. Here are eight tips that will help you improve your creative process. Choose the ones that fit your situation.
- Ask three questions: “Why?” “What if?” and “Why not?” Repeat them over and over. Asking “why” helps you explore the current situation. When you wonder “what if,” you imagine alternatives, and when you consider “why not” you explore the forces working against change or standing in the way of this specific idea.
- Analyze the situation. How have you or others tried in the past to solve this problem? Did any of those approaches work? If not, why did they fail? What are you doing about the problem right now? What resistance will you face as you solve it? Identify who will oppose you and why.
- Persuade others to accept your idea. It isn’t enough to come up with a solution. You need to persuade your colleagues or your customers to embrace it. Pinpoint your target audience. How will you get your new idea across? Develop a plan for the project itself. Break it into smaller steps. Spell out the expected benefit or return on investment.
- Shift your perspective. Look at the problem from a standard view, then zoom in to see how it affects individuals. Step outside your own view. Consider the issue as an outsider. Why do you do things the way you do?
- Discover other ideas. You don’t have to create all of your new ideas. Instead of creating ideas, you can discover them. Consider a competitor’s approach, and try to take the positives and apply them to your presentations. Have you lost a customer to a competitor? Try to pinpoint the reasons why. Then come up with some creative solutions to win the customer back.
- Look for creative solutions for satisfying prospects. This is a key to the creative process. Give your customers and prospects ideas on how to improve their business operations. During your dealings with a wide variety of businesses, you probably pick up ideas and techniques that can be helpful to other customers. Try to pass effective suggestions along to your other customers. They appreciate this type of help and it may lead to long-term relationships.
- Be open to all new ideas. Your goal now is not to evaluate ideas, but to generate and encourage them. Don’t judge new ideas. Don’t comment on them. Don’t edit or worry about how you will put them into practice. Don’t let past events rule the future.
- Launch your ideas. Sort through the new ideas you generate, evaluate them to select the best, and bring them to life. Once you choose an idea, test it. Put it into your presentations and keep a “scorecard” to track your successes and failures.
It gets easier with time
You will have to grow accustomed to working on creativity, but it becomes easier with time. Your responses to problems will be more creative in every area, from daily issues with competitors or to game-changing innovations. You will also make fewer mistakes in the process.
You’ll expand your definition of creativity and become better at recognizing stages in the process. You’ll also have a better idea when to seek input from others.
Adapted from: Disciplined Dreaming by Josh Linkner, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners and the founder and chairman of ePrize.