In business we have a number of ways or tools that we use to stimulate improvement. Most of us could recite these in our sleep:o Brainstormingo Benchmarkingo Problem solvingWhen these things fail, or we realize that perhaps there are better ways to do these approaches, we do the next likely thing and hire a consultant. (As a consultant, I am glad that people sometimes take this step).Each of these steps can be very valuable and powerful when done correctly. There are methods, approaches and steps that you can take to make each of these things (including hiring the consultant) more effective.The ProblemThe problem is the first three items on the list suffer from a similar problem – they all become too introspective.Brainstorming too often becomes a short list of ideas that people have considered in the past, or things people tried at their last job.Benchmarking ends up being too incestuous. If you are benchmarking within your industry, everyone in the industry is looking at each other, and the bar may never be lifted high enough.Problem solving techniques are only as good as the ideas that are found to implement, and where do those ideas come from? Brainstorming and benchmarking.The AlternativeThe alternative is a phrase called creative emulation. I learned this phrase from marketing guru Jay Abraham, who has helped hundreds of companies and individuals improve using this technique and has personally made a fortune using it and teaching it.It is incredibly simple in concept, and amazingly obvious. But most of us don’t do it often enough.Creative emulation requires studying other industries and businesses for the models and approaches that they use. Then thinking about how you could modify, adapt or “creatively emulate” their successes into your business.Some ExamplesDirect marketers have done this forever. Any good copywriting consultant tells you to build a “clip file” of ads and sales letters that are effective. By keeping this “file” of successful copy, you are able to refer to it for inspiration, ideas, unique phrases and more. The “clip file” is a perfect example of creative emulation.In leading training sessions, while there is benefit in having a whole group from the same organization, there are great benefits from having mixed audiences too – even having people from different divisions or departments in the same company can give participants new insights, ideas and practices that they can creatively emulate back in their situation.In some types of training seminars, participants will be placed in the “hot seat” by the facilitator or trainer. In this situation the participant is asked very specific questions to help both them and the facilitator better understand their situation. Then the trainer will propose some very specific ideas that the participant can apply.On first glance this may seem like a boring event for other participants as one person’s situation is explored, prodded and probed. The reality is that if the trainer does a good job of setting up the process, each participant can learn much by answering the same questions for themselves, reflecting on their answers and using the process of creative emulation to apply the lessons to their own business and situation.These are three very different situations, all of which use the process of creative emulation as a way to create new ideas and spawn new approaches.How to Do ItThe process is pretty straightforward:1. Learn all you can about a successful business or business model. This includes reading, interviewing and researching it as much as you can.2. Think about the strengths of that business or process and see how it might strengthen your situation.3. Look for ways to emulate, modify or adapt those success approaches into your situation.Where do you find these model businesses? First of all it is important to realize that any business has some unique strength, even if they don’t recognize it, and even if they may not be super successful overall. With this realization, anyone can become a case study for you!o Read the local business section or the Wall Street Journal more carefully.o Read business magazines in industries different than you own.o Attend a conference as a guest of a friend – in an industry completely different from your own.o Learn more about the people you meet at your next networking event. Don’t stop with exchanging names and business cards. Take real interest in their approaches and successes.These approaches can get you started.Brainstorming, benchmarking and problem solving are great tools in your tool bag, but remember you have other options. One of those options is creative emulation. You can apply it in many ways in your business or other professional pursuits.I wish you great success with this new approach.
“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”- Howard RuffWhen you think about it, creativity really is about taking a leap of faith.Because creativity allows you to visualize that which isn’t…that which you can’t see. And when creativity is applied to business, it lets you take that which isn’t, and transform it into ideas that can change the world. Or at least your company.Now, I’m the first one to admit there are some people who have a hard time putting the words creativity and business together. Business is about numbers, profit and loss statements, taxes. Where does creativity fit in?Everywhere within your organization.Businesses that lack creativity will be businesses that get left behind. Think about it… companies that bring innovation and breakthrough ideas to the table are the ones that continue to grow and prosper.If you don’t believe me, think about Apple, Microsoft, Google. They were once small businesses. But I guarantee you that size was the only thing small about them. They were big thinkers. Thinkers who could use their creativity and imaginations to envision a very large future.Could you be the next Google? Anything is possible. Especially when you nurture creative thinking in your organization.Because creative thinking is what can separates you from your competition. And if you’re not an organization that promotes creative thinking, you probably aren’t as profitable as you could be.Creativity is what drives the next breakthrough idea. It’s what discovers an innovative approach to solving a problem.
In short, creativity opens up a vast world of possibilities.If that’s not reason enough, you should encourage creativity in the workplace because it simply makes for a better working environment. People want to express the creativity we were all born with.Whoa. Stop. Back up.Did I say, we are all born creative? Surely, I just meant those of us who were born with paintbrush and pencil in hand?Uh-uh. We were all born creative. If you doubt it, all you have to do is watch children play. But somewhere along the way, we were told to “quit daydreaming.” We were told to get real – to start thinking logically.So we grew up. (Well, most of us did.)Our imaginations dimmed, and we started to see the problems instead of the possibilities.So what do you say we all take a giant step backward?It’s time to start tapping into your creative resources. I promise you have them. We owe it to our companies, our employees, and most of all…ourselves.
Creativity and inspiration are essential to any business venture. Without these, your business will become stale and may even begin to lose profitability. Owning a business means that you will constantly be in a state of change and improvement, and so it is crucial to stay connected with your own creative flow.Working from home offers the incredible freedom of being able to create your own schedule. The blessing of this freedom is that it can enhance your creativity and ability to follow inspiration. On the other end of things, this freedom can tempt you into time wasting activities, or cause you to flow too much and forget about productivity and the “bottom line”.These four tips will help you to maximize your creative and intuitive flow, without sacrificing the productivity of your business.
Create a plan for the income producing activities that you will do each day, or each week for your business. Once you know that you need to accomplish X, Y and Z in a day, you can set this as a priority and then “flow” around these activities.
If possible, accomplish your income producing activities first, then reward yourself with something fun to do. You’ll be surprised at how many women get fantastic business ideas while gardening, playing with the kids or lying in the bath!
Schedule some ‘down time” each day for business reading and education. The constant influx of new ideas will foster your own creativity.
Create balance in your life by scheduling time daily to care for your body, get outside in the fresh air, and do fun, non-business activities. This balance is essential to avoiding burnout and keeping your creativity flowing.
With some fun, balance, and just the right amount of structure in your business day, you can navigate your business through today’s ever changing business climate, and continue to grow both professionally and personally in the process!