by Sharon Kreher and Barb Harris, teamworks communication
At our recent annual PRConsultants Group conference, we had the privilege of spending some time with Dennis Skinner of Many-To-One (www.many2one.com), an inspiring speaker, on the topic of creativity and innovation.
One of the first points he made was to say that everyone has the potential to think creatively. We just don’t take the time to stop what we’re already doing long enough to challenge ourselves to think about things in a new way. We get trapped in boxes and assumptions of our own making. We limit our options and possibilities with self-imposed rules about what can and cannot be done or achieved. Innovators take existing rules and paradigms and turn them upside down.
We also tend to be overly optimistic that what seems to be working right now will always produce the same results. It isn’t until we see a drop-off in business, a new competitor taking away market share or some type of business calamity that we wake up and try to start thinking creatively.
What if we didn’t wait for crisis mode to get more creative? What if we actively cultivated creative thinking on a regular basis? Made time to brainstorm. Started routinely questioning our assumptions.
Skinner suggests taking a “pre-mortem.” We’re all familiar with post-mortems, taking stock of a situation after the fact. But what if we consider what could happen before it actually does? See a potential threat and take steps to neutralize it before it can impact our business?
Another strategy he suggested is to apply the lens of successful companies to our own enterprise. If Starbucks or Google, Southwest or Amazon were running your business, what do you think they might do differently? How would they change customer service, efficiency, mission, product scope, quality or attitude? This exercise allows you to step out of your own routines and biases to consider your business from a completely different angle.
We took a quick poll of the conference attendees and learned that many of them devote up to five hours each month to developing their learning and creative thinking (eight respondents spend more than 5 hours) – a time investment well spent. What are you doing to think more creatively?
Sharon Kreher and Barb Harris are the founders of teamworks communication, a 20-year-old PR firm based in St. Louis and Phoenix. They have extensive background in partnering with consumer retail companies and nonprofit organizations.