Neil Bromage has run his own small business and is a freelance business writer working on a range of newspapers including The Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Financial Mail on Sunday. This book is based on a wide range of columns and Q&As written and answered by Neil for Business Link over a number of years. He is based near Preston, Lancs.
It’s official – British business lacks creativity. It’s suffering the equivalent of writer’s block according to a recent CBI report, and as business people are generally so busy with day-to-day issues this is hardly surprising. But it is now well recognised that creativity is the lifeblood of all businesses, particularly if they want to grow and prosper.
However, according to author and course leader Tim Foster, most of us are ‘running in neutral, doing the same things every day’. So how do you rejuvenate stale minds and attitudes to get that little extra from people, which can make the difference between doing a reasonable job and a terrific one?
- Have an ‘open mind’ philosophy and a ‘can do’ attitude – it’s all too easy to think that our own ideas are the best and fail to encourage other members of the business to contribute. The people who actually do a job often have the best ideas for how it can be improved.
- Use tried and tested creativity tools and techniques. Think about holding creativity training courses – writing, drawing, painting or acting. Hold brainstorming sessions to get answers to specific problems, but avoid using killer phrases like: ‘we’ve tried that before’, ‘yes, but’, ‘it will never work’ or ‘that’s a ridiculous idea!’. These are all negative, and creativity responds best to positive encouragement. Try the ‘why, why’ and ‘how, how’ techniques, asking ‘Why... why’ five times in answer to questions or problems – five should get you to the root cause.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. If the ‘can do’ attitude is to pay dividends all fear of failing needs to be removed. Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. If we’re succeeding at everything we’re probably living on mountain tops, whereas failure tends to put us into valleys. But remember nothing grows on mountain tops.