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An article written by Dave Stewart and Mark Simmons

AUTHOR: Dave Stewart & Mark Simmons

As we spring back from one of the worst recessions in living memory it’s time to inject a bit of creativity back into business. Creativity involves taking risks by trying new things, so it has inevitably taken a bit of a back seat over the past couple of years. In fact, it’s been sitting very quietly back there, seat belt on, trying not to distract the driver who, grim-faced, hands firmly on wheel has been steering the car through the storm and trying not to drive off a cliff. But now we’ve pulled over to stretch our legs, the clouds seem to be lifting and there’s a hint of sunshine ahead. We all know that without creativity there will be no innovation and it’s innovation that in the long term will separate us out from the pack. So let’s switch seats, roll down the windows  and turn on the radio. It’s time to put creativity back into business! Here are 6 tips for how to make your business more creative. There are many more in our book:

  1. Celebrate mistakes. It’s okay to fail. In fact it’s a valuable part of the creative process and those who have many successes tend to have had more failures along the way. The point is to reduce the downside of failing so it won’t kill you. Find ways to reward small risks, perhaps with a prize for the bravest ideas.
  2. Slip into something less comfortable. We all have things we feel comfortable doing and tend to avoid the other stuff. But it’s the other stuff that often allows us to think in new ways, so break your routine, talk to people you don’t normally talk to, and make it a goal to try something that scares you at least once every few days. 
  3. Learn how to play. It’s usually business or pleasure, but to be creative you need to have both because the more you can let go, the more fun you’ll have and the more likely you’ll come up with unexpected ideas.  Use music, humour and games to shake things up and help you and others think in new ways.
  4. Idea Spaghetti. Quantity of ideas is the single biggest predictor of creativity, so don’t wait for the Big One: keep generating as many ideas as you can, by questioning what you see around you and thinking of ways to improve them. Set yourself a daily goals for the number of ideas you want to come up and write them up in a notebook
  5. Flood your brain. Creativity is about making connections, often between two completely unrelated things. So it stands to reason that if you can feed your brain with a lot of different stimuli you’ll have a greater chance of making connections. Make sure you read, watch, listen and do to a wide variety of things as often as you can.
  6. Collaborate.  “Plays well with others” applies now even more it did on the school report. It’s almost impossible to bring good ideas to life without partnering with outsiders, so we should be less paranoid about signing NDAs and more willing to collaborate with people who share a common vision and can add expertise we don’t have. 
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