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How to be creative at work

What is creativity?

Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being. Creativity requires passion and commitment. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points out a new life. To the Global CEO Study, creativity is the most crucial factor for Future Success. Indeed, it begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking.

How to be creative?

In almost every job there are opportunities of creativity and innovation—sometimes they are small procedures improvements, and sometimes they are big, risky innovations. How can you put some imagination and creativity into your work? Here are seven key steps:

1)  Recognize that every product, every service, every method and every aspect of your job can be done differently and better:

Think of the service of providing music to music fans. Once it was done only through live performances. You had to go to a drafty hall, sit still and listen. Then we had vinyl records. Then cassettes, followed by CDs. Now we can listen to downloaded music like on our cell phones that can be listened as we walk in the park. It’s the same with industrial, office and business processes: each  gets replaced by something better. Approach every task with the attitude that the current method is temporary and that your job is to find a better way to do it.

2)  Ask people:

Ask customers what problems and issues they have with your products or services. Ask suppliers for ideas for cost savings and quality improvements. Ask colleagues in other departments what could be improved. People in other places have other points of view and can see problems, gaps and opportunities that you can’t see. Network outside of work with people in other fields and discuss their approaches to some of the topics that concern you.

3) Run regular brainstorms:

A well-facilitated ideation session or brainstorming with a diverse team will generate plenty of great ideas for any business challenge. You should hold them often with your team (and a sprinkling of provocative outsiders) to tackle the issues that are crying out for fresh approaches. Start with a clear statement of the issue and some broad criteria for what a good solution might look like. Turn the brainstorms into action by implementing the best ideas.

4)  Look far outside:

How do other organizations in different fields tackle the sorts of challenges that you face? What do they do in the entertainment industry, or in retail, or in charities? What do businesses similar to yours but in Singapore, Holland or Shanghai do? Research them on the internet. Can you implement some of their great ideas and apply them locally?

5) Discuss issues and ideas with your boss.

Find out what his or her big issues are. What is the corporate strategy? Maybe you can contribute a few ideas of your own that will help your manager or the company at large. Talk about the challenges and your proposals and suggestions. Show that you are a positive contributor of ideas.

6) Build prototypes:

Show people how an idea would work in practice with a mockup or a prototype. Ask for their input and ideas. Make the ideas real and you will get feedback. Test new products and service ideas with customers.

7) Change your attitude to failure.

If everything you try works then you are not being bold enough. Innovation involves trying some things that don’t work. Treat each failure as a learning opportunity. The innovator’s motto is: “I succeed or I learn, but I never fail.”

“We need more innovation here”

Every CEO says this phrase, yet everywhere we see people frightened to try new things. We tend to think that it is just the marketing or R&D departments that should be creative. The truth is that we desperately need creative thinking everywhere in our workplaces.

It can start with you!

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