10 Tips for Beating the Competition by Improving Creativity
There's a lot of competition out there. Your business is no longer competing with your neighbor. Thanks to the internet, the world is your customer and your competition. But you needn't let that discourage you.
People do business with organizations they know, like, and trust. To stand out from the crowd, you need to share of yourself and let them get to know you. But you also have to embrace creativity because if you don't, your marketing message will sound like everyone else's:
Our customers are the most important thing to us.
We put our customers first.
Every business thinks they put customers first.
You need more than that and that's where creativity comes in. Creativity can help you land more business, come up with good product and service ideas, and assist your branding.
But what if you don't consider yourself creative or you're in a funk and can't think creatively?
You are and you can. Here's how:
- Move meetings outside. A change of scenery often produces more exciting ideas.
- Ask people to come up with creative solutions before the meeting. Some people brainstorm best alone.
- Go to bed with an idea and ask for help with a solution. Sometimes that’s all it takes to kick-start your unconscious. The idea behind how the needle in the sewing machine would work was based on a dream.
- Offer private workspace. Public desks and open work rooms were all the rage but studies have found they’re less effective and more of a distraction.
- Provide guidelines and expectations and then give them space. If you want your team to be more creative, or solve a problem creatively, instruct them on the details they need to know, what the outcomes should be, and then ask them how they would get there. Don’t micromanage the process.
- Stop saying no. If employees or peers watch you voice disapproval with other members of the team, they may not feel welcome to share. Instead, replace “no” with “and” which encourages additional conversation and working through the details. If the idea is missing the mark, use open-ended questions like “how would you factor in ____?” before you say no.
- Focus on the end result, not how you get there. Plot your goal and entertain multiple ways to get there. Brainstorming your path will keep your approach agile and yet still focused on your ultimate goal.
- Change your habits. Look for ways to shake up your daily patterns. Ditch the Monday morning meeting for a more flexible option. Maybe Friday afternoons are better for your crew. Perhaps Wednesday mornings give them time to review the week’s projects and time to correct, if necessary. Play around with the way you do things at your office.
- Consider creating interdepartmental workgroups. Getting people from different departments together brings fresh ideas and new ways of approaching challenges. Plus, it ensures all voices are heard and can improve company culture.
- Host off-site activities. Whether work meetings, lunch, or after-work get-togethers, getting out of your space can give you a different perspective.
It Starts and Ends with Company Culture
Those are some quick ways to start improving your team’s creativity but none of those ideas will work if you’ve become a company known for saying no. Creativity is a company culture that needs to be nurtured and encouraged
One way to encourage creativity in company culture is the “overshoot” method. Encourage employees to think of “big, hairy, audacious” ideas. You may not be able to carry out each and every huge plan but you might find incorporating a smaller concept from those big solutions can be beneficial.
Set up a mentality at your business or within your own work to “shoot for the moon.” As the old saying goes, even if you fail, you’re still among the stars.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.