Creative thinking could radically change your company — and cost you next to nothing.
I admire creative businesspeople. The kind who think differently about their businesses and problem-solve to deliver products or services in a unique way. The ones who are innovators in their space. Companies like Airbnb, Rent the Runway, 1-800-GOT-JUNK and Edible Arrangements all stemmed from creative thinking and innovating new ways to provide goods and services.
In a traditional sense, the descriptor “creative” has been widely reserved for artists — people like painters, writers, musicians and designers. The types of people that most would describe as the “artsy” crowd. This idea that only some people are creative has seeped its way into businesses, rendering many skilled (albeit non-artistic) people from utilizing their own ingenuity.
I witnessed it many times over the years, sitting across from clients as they declare, “I am just not creative.” This way of thinking both hurts and hinders a business’s creative potential. I believe we all have the power to be creative and come up with original ideas — some of us just choose not to harness our brainpower creatively. But we have to shift our mindset.
Practice Makes Perfect
It’s no secret that our body improves its performance the more we exercise. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that our brains do the same thing. The more we challenge ourselves with opportunities to think freely without restriction, the more we become better critical and creative thinkers when problem-solving.
Here at BBR, we use activities geared towards individual and group brainstorming to stimulate creative thought. Our exercises include charrettes, isolated thinking time, trigger storming, step ladder brainstorming and rapid ideation. These, of course, are in no way the only brainstorm practices out there, but it’s a great place to start.
We encourage brainstorming because it helps us generate a flood of ideas at once. The more ideas you have, the higher your chances of coming up with one solid solution. During these sessions, creativity is essential — but vulnerability is needed, too. This is why Sara and I encourage our employees to be brave when sharing ideas, with no fear of repercussions or shame. After all, especially at the brainstorming stage, there’s truly no such thing as a bad idea.
Putting Awareness into Action
When faced with a challenge in your own business, don’t undervalue the opportunity for brainstorming. We use everything from whiteboard discussions and sticky note sessions to office-wide online “all plays” and reverse thinking practices (i.e., what would someone else do in our situation?). There are so many methods of thought stimulation that are easy to implement and cost nothing.
All forward-thinking businesses do this. They’re always working on ways to improve operations, streamline processes, and make what they do better. Likewise, fresh ideas are in constant demand. These new solutions lead to innovation, innovation leads to progress, and progress leads to growth.
As the owner of a business that deals in the selling and sharing of ideas, I believe in hiring creative firms to bring fresh solutions to the table. However, I also strongly recommend that you exercise the brainpower of the thinkers you already employ. They know your business better than most, and their ideas could be the start of something great.
Give it a try. I’d love to hear how this works for you.
And remember: You’re creative, too.