I’m so tired of hearing people say things like; “I wish I was creative” or “I wish I could come up with good ideas”.
They talk like if creativity is a skill only given to a few. But this is not true. What does it mean to be creative? Well, it’s not the ability to come up with ideas out of nothing. That is impossible. Creativity is the ability to see exciting things in a new light.
You might think that some people are born creative, because you see it in some kids. And in a sense that’s true. But we are all born creative. We come into this world with an open mind and the ability to learn. That’s all you need for creativity to flourish. But creativity is more about nurture than nature.
The reason kids seem creative is because they haven’t been brainwashed yet, by their parents, teacher, or others, to believe they can’t do this or that. They still have an open mind. Some people are lucky enough to keep this mindset, because of people or circumstances in their life that encourage an open mind, curiosity and questions.
Are you one of those who look at others and envy their creativity? Stop that. You can be creative! “How do I start?” you might ask. Live life, be genuinely interested in the world around you, observe and talk to people, read books about everything, learn new stuff, try and fail, be curious, challenge your assumptions, ask questions and surround yourself with open minded people.
*** Go be Creative! ***
Doing Outside The Box
Stop wasting time and money trying to change your business from the inside.
There is a lot of talk about change these days. That companies needs to continually change to deal with the latest technology, behavioral or business trend. But change is hard, takes time and cost a lot of money. For big established companies it’s almost impossible to change focus, mindset and organisational structure fast enough. This problem is obvious to us all, but how do we deal with it?
Looking from the outside in.
When a company tries to change, the employees get stressed out, confused, and performance goes down. What if you could focus on doing what you do best today, and at the same time give yourself the opportunity to look for new and better ways?
“The most substantial threats to a given advantage are likely to arise from a peripheral or nonobvious location” — Professor Rita McGrath
How do we come up with the best ideas and new and better solutions? Very often looking from the outside in. Don’t try to change your current business, from the inside, by imposing something new that disrupts it’s flow and revenue stream. This is to costly. Instead work along side it, or; outside the box. The “box” represents existing structures, IT-systems, habits and mindsets that so often is a barrier to innovation.
Author of the book “Where Good Ideas comes from”, Steven Johnson, says that; “…if you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect”. Focus on creating an environment, outside your business, where innovation and creative problem solving can flourish. Where people are given freedom, trust and guidance to make it a reality.
“… if you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect…”
Into this “creative space” you invite your most motivated employees to participate, maybe in cooperation with an external creative team. The aim should be to build a startup mentality, by fostering the right mindset and making available the method and means needed to make innovation possible. When you see the business from the outside it’s easier to identify and explore new opportunities. Without being held back by conventional wisdom and what today look like. Here you can ask questions like, to quote Tom Goodwin; “What would the business look like if it was built today?”.
What if being a big and established company was a positive?
Organisations doesn’t necessarily need to become big before things starts to get complicated. Before forward thinking becomes overshadowed by daily operations. This is one of the reasons we see digital startups disrupting almost every industry these days. They are not trapped by existing systems, mindsets and habits. Yet. This enables them to solve the customers needs smarter, faster and simpler than their established competitors.
But, unlike a small startup, big and established companies already have access to money, employees and customers. If they have their priorities straight of course. Used right this can be an enormous advantage. These companies don’t need to go looking for people to test potential new solutions and prototypes on. This can be done on existing customers and employees, to gain valuable feedback and insights before launching or implementing. This reduces risk and makes experimenting easier.
“…The fundamental problem is that when you are trying something new, it isn’t typically clear right away which exact configuration of elements is going to be a winner. This suggests that experimentation, trial-and-error learning, and discovery are the key practices…” — Professor Rita McGrath
When new solutions are discovered the company have the possibility to either; gradually implement it in their business by letting a few of the employees and customers try it out first. Or; create a separate business model if the new solution opens up new arenas. Then invite both existing and new customers to join, and gradually move employees when reasonable. The “Apple model” has a lot to teach us. Where you have different groups of people working on different products (solutions), and being allowed to disrupt one another for the sake of “the greater good”.
Be Creative – Summing up
Why do innovation on the outside? Because creating and implementing something new in an existing organisation isn’t easy. Too often the structures, mindsets and habits already in place makes the process long, painful and costly. By doing innovation “outside the box” it’s easier to identify and explore new and better solutions, together with those already motivated. Here you can build, test, iterate and launch solutions and then invite more to join. This reduces risk and is a more financially responsible way of doing innovation. Because as we know; most people are only willing to try something new, when others have shown that it works. That goes for both employees and customers.
About The Author
Ludvig Nevland Creative consultant and facilitator at Railway, an Oslo based innovation studio. Passionate about the role of creativity and empathy in business.
Hi, my name is Ludvig. I’ve been working within the so-called “creative industry” for the last 10 years. At 18 I started working as a Graphic Designer and went on to become an Art Director. After taking Hyper Island’s Digital Strategy program in 2014, I tried to change the company I worked for. I failed to do so, quit my job and started working as a freelance Consultant. I did this for about a year, before I was hired by Railway april 1th, 2016. I’m passionate about the role of creativity in business and believe creativity guided by empathy has the potential to change the course of humanity. Any thoughts or feedback? Feel free to comment here or connect on LinkedIn.