Strategies for Success: 9 Ways To Be More Creative

By Lisette Howlett

We all know how essential creativity and creative thinking is to business success. Being creative is not always coming up with new or niche ideas it is also about positioning old ideas in a new way, or finding a solution to a problem that makes you faster, better, cheaper.

This mlh global hr consulting strategies for success article proposes 9 ways you can be more creative

1. Avoid self imposed barriers. These can be imposed on ourselves consciously or unconsciously. They are particularly difficult to recognise but relatively easy to correct. Try asking yourself – what would be an ‘out of the box’ solution; what would xx do? Try brainstorming different ideas – follow the brainstorming rules – nothing is too outrageous to go on the list. Talk to others, particularly people who you think are creative, and get insights into how they think though problems.

2. Try thinking of more than one answer to everything. When you select your preferred solution check this against personal norms – was it predictable that you would choose this solution?

3. Avoid Conformity. Try thinking – ‘what would be totally outrageous to my collaborators, my customers, my suppliers, my network, my friends?’ If you do come up with a radical or different idea think carefully about how you introduce it – using good process, stakeholder identification and different influencing techniques mean that you can ease in a solution that might otherwise be rejected.

4. Challenge the obvious. It can be tempting to find and use the most obvious answer as there is a lot of effort required to challenging the obvious solution.

5. Try to consciously think broadly and long term – even if you use analytical thinking to do this. Practice with mind maps and other visual tools that encourage non linear thinking. Try the paradigm question: “What is impossible to do right now but if you could do it would fundamentally change your business etc”?

6. Avoid making up your mind too quickly which can eliminate possible solutions or areas of thought at too early. If your inclination is to say ‘this won’t work’ try instead to say ‘this will work if we do xx’ or ‘what would be the benefit if it did work’.

7. Experiment with people you trust and are comfortable with. Tell some collaborators that you are consciously trying to be more creative and so will be making more ‘out there’ suggestions. If you prepare your environment it feels safer and you are more likely to take risks.

8. Avoid cynicism and negativity. This will prevent people wanting or trying to put new ideas forward. Not only will this curb your own creative thinking but that of everyone around you. If you find you have tendencies in this way – try disciplining yourself to always think of one good thing about an idea BEFORE voicing any critique. Humour can also often unwittingly appear
cynical or negative, or intimidate others – think about how you use yours; and from time to time adjust it according to the needs of the people you are with.

9. Try using phrases such as:

• That sounds interesting, tell me more …
• That sounds interesting, let’s try it …
• I have never thought of it like that, thanks …
• It sounds off the wall, but I wonder how we can make it work …

Lisette Howlett, Managing Consultant/Director mlh global hr consulting, has a unique range and breadth in HR and a track record of achievement spanning 15 years with global Human
Resources in blue chip companies and 5 years in local government and the public sector. This includes extensive global HR project and content leadership and internal/external HR consulting covering UK, U.S., Switzerland, Europe, and Asia. She writes and presents on HR and recruitment matters with particular emphasis on recruitment, recruitment effectiveness, integrated talent management, the people and organisation side of M&A and business transformation, the role of HR, strategic HR and global HR.

Additionally Lisette is founder of a website which provides independent information and real life feedback on all aspects of recruitment – serving the needs of candidates, recruiters and hiring companies.

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