What’s your definition of innovation? I’ve seen a lot of definitions, all sounding something like “…generating value from something new” be it a new product, service or even a process. It’s all about the implementation of the new. Creativity on the other hand is the process of coming up with the new. My favorite definition is from Albert Einstein: Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.
Wow! What a powerful thought. Seeing what everyone else sees, but thinking differently.
You are Creative
Everyone is creative, including yourself. It’s a natural human ability, but as we age, most people conform to the norms around them, and their creative lens becomes cloudy over time. With a cloudy lens, a rail car container is for hauling goods. With clarity, they can be building blocks for new modular homes. With a cloudy lens, crickets are noisy and annoying insects. With clarity, they are a great new food source full of protein.
You can un-cloud your creative lens, you can hone your natural ability. The first step is recognizing it’s in you. Simply thinking back to when you were a child is often enough of a reminder. Remember all those "why not" questions? The answers you likely got back then began to cloud your creative lens. They began to conform you. Imagine if you were given a response of “Yeah, why not?”, “We could also use it for…”, and “What if we did this…?” These type of responses would have polished your lens and expanded your creativity. The good news is it’s not too late - you need only exercise your imagination!
Proactively search the internet for resources that can help polish your lens. There is a lot of information available and most if very useful and effective. Then start challenging your conformist thoughts. Start asking those why not questions, and surround yourself with people who do too and those who provide supportive feedback.
See Your Business Differently
Once you have your creative mojo back, take a hard look at your business, your products, your services, and your competition. Your normal pattern of thinking has them all pre-defined. You’re in the construction business, you build large retail center, you provide design services, etc. What if instead of seeing a construction business, you saw an entertainment company? A company that has the capabilities to build exciting and profound experiences for the patrons visiting your sites. How could that view change what you build and propel you ahead of your competition? Don’t worry about how or whether it is possible (that’s a hard thing to do for action-oriented implementers, but you can do it!). Let the power of creativity help you see your business in a new light with new possibilities.
Unleash Your Power
Don’t limit creativity to visionary aspirations only. Use it everywhere, use it reimagine how you actually conduct your business. Why not use third parties to manufacture our parts? Why not change our procurement practices/policies? Why not flatten our management structure? These questions might sound ridiculous at first and even reckless, but you’re un-clouding your lens and opening your mind and business up to new possibilities and future growth.
Dare to see what everyone else sees, but think differently.