Making Creativity Predictable

Making Creativity Predictable

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Innovation
We may never know exactly where creativity comes from, but you can create the conditions that invite it. Consider the problem you're trying to solve — and then walk away from it. Letting the problem marinate gives your brain a chance to draw connections and sort through possible paths forward. Keep a journal of ideas that inspire you, whether they’re from books, conference sessions, or random conversations. The goal is to have something to refer to when you need a mental jolt. You can also get inspiration by doing things that don’t interest you. Does a magazine have an article on a topic that bores you? Read it anyway. You never know where your next big idea will come from. This works because it activates parts of the brain that…
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Lessons From Apollo 11

Lessons From Apollo 11

Featured, Innovation
Fifty years ago man first set foot on the moon. This achievement was considered impossible by some and represented a giant leap forward in technology. When John F. Kennedy first announced the goal of reaching the moon, it was unknown if we would be able to do it. Like many challenges that business faces, it was a learning experience and a teaching moment. There are lessons from putting man on the moon that we can all apply. Have A Clear Goal: Everyone involved with knew what the goal was. Put a man on the moon and bring him back successfully. As complicated as the project was, the goal was able to be summed up in that one sentence. Make your goal simple enough so that everyone understands it. Persistence: There…
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Break Out of Your Standard Patterns of Thinking

Break Out of Your Standard Patterns of Thinking

Featured, Innovation
Apple popularized the phrase "Think Different" in it's ad campaigns. Great innovators see the world differently. They look beyond what’s obvious and expected, and seek out novel solutions to problems. You can push yourself to be more creative by trying out new approaches to challenges. In the movie "Good Will Hunting" this was illustrated by the students standing on their desks to get a new perspective. When you’re in a situation where you’re tempted to resort to your usual methods ask yourself these questions: What expectations and assumptions are you bringing to the situationHow are your personal background, professional expertise, and relationships at work affecting your methods? How might someone from another department or industry view the challenge? How might you tackle the project if you didn’t already have a…
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Two Things To Do Before Running A Business Experiment

Two Things To Do Before Running A Business Experiment

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
Experiments are a great way to test your assumptions and make smart decisions, whether you’re launching a product or optimizing a marketing campaign. But without a thoughtful plan of execution, you may not learn anything truly useful. Before you invest in an experiment, make sure you are set up so the experiment can provide you with what you need. Make sure you are able to collect the data you need to answer the experiment’s underlying question. For example, if you can’t measure attribution from a digital ad to a sale, you can’t run an experiment to figure out which ads are effective. Do a test run of the experiment in a low-stakes environment. If your goal is to send an email survey to customers, send it to a large group…
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Unsilo Your Knowledge

Unsilo Your Knowledge

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
It is common for people to try to stay up-to-date in their chosen profession. I.T. people study up on the latest technology, marketers keep up with the latest marketing techniques, etc. The most successful businesspeople go beyond their silo. They learn things unrelated to their work. By doing so, they take their abilities to a new level. Taking knowledge from other fields and jobs allows you to innovate in your own. Knowing how other people in your organization work, allows you to make project transitions seamlessly. Knowing what challenges other people face can give you ideas on products or services to solve those problems. Read up on history, programming, design, science, art, engineering, or any other topic that captures your imagination. You never know where your next big idea will come…
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Innovation Starts With Setting Clear Goals

Innovation Starts With Setting Clear Goals

Featured, Innovation
Sometimes entrepreneurs and executives fail to establish guidelines for innovation because they believe that creativity is all about giving people freedom. But if you don’t specify what kind of ideas you are looking for, you’ll end up with a lot of ideas to reject. While rejecting a lot of ideas is not necessarily a bad thing, it does take up time and resources that could be used in better ways. For better results focus on problems that are relevant to your business and overall goals. Define the type of outcome people should aim for. For example, are you looking to increase market share or improve quality or simplify a process? Give people an indication of what a “good enough” idea is – e.g., a target year-one revenue number or a…
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Don’t Believe These Strategic Planning Myths

Don’t Believe These Strategic Planning Myths

Featured, Innovation, Planning
Strategic thinking often boils down to choosing what not to do. Yet three myths continue to plague it: Myth 1: Productivity is the goal. Productivity is about getting things done. Strategic thinking is about getting the right things done well. And that means leaving some things undone. Myth 2: Strategy is about what's “important.” Every project is important to someone, and every organization has more important projects than it can complete. Strategic thinkers must decide where to focus their efforts. Myth 3: It’s only about thinking. Strategic thought has to yield actionable decisions. Leaders must step up and make the call about what the team will and will not do — and then stick to it.
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Look Outside Your Field

Look Outside Your Field

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
There is an old quote that has been attributed to numerous sources, "Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal." When it comes to innovating, one of the best ways to develop innovations is to steal from other industries. What is standard, and even taken for granted, in one industry, can be brand new to another. Adapting processes from different industries can spur new ideas and improved productivity. It also brings another advantage. People in a given industry tend to think alike. Part of this is due to the type of person your industry attracts, part of it is training. Bringing in ideas from a different industry brings in a different point of view and enhances the diversity of ideas you are working with. Don't limit yourself to similar industries. A service…
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Scarcity Leads To Innovation

Scarcity Leads To Innovation

Featured, Innovation
Necessity is the mother of invention. When times or resources are tight, people usually figure out how to make due: they create work-arounds, devise new ways of operating, and make better use of limited assets. If you're looking for a creative solution or an innovative new product, remember that creative problem-solving is the inevitable result of working with constraints. Try deliberately imposing scarcity on a process. Limit time, money, options, or other resources. A great example is the work done by NASA during the flight of Apollo 13. They needed to build a CO2 scrubber (a filter that removes carbon dioxide from the air) but were limited by the fact that they could only work with what the astronauts had on the ship. They also had to devise a new…
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Diversity Is Not The Point

Diversity Is Not The Point

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Innovation
Diversity is a popular topic. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of articles talking about how important it is to have diversity in your organization. Most if not all of them miss the point. The bulk of the conversation has been about the lack of racial or gender diversity in the C-suite or in the tech industry. They talk about the need to provide opportunity to all groups. They fail to talk about why this is important to your business. The point of diversity is not to be diverse. The point is to have a wider range of ideas and skills. A diverse team brings in different viewpoints. The combination of those viewpoints is where innovation comes from. People of different backgrounds come with different experiences. The total of those experiences…
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