Creativity and innovation are key to building and maintaining a strong business or professional presence. It doesn’t matter if you pursue a low-cost, product differentiation, or niche strategy. You always need creative and innovative behaviors to keep you one step ahead of your competitors because “if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.” Developing your own creative and innovative mindset is the first step to gaining market share or differentiating your personal brand.
If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.”
In general, you only need three things to cultivate creativity and innovation:
You need to have specific knowledge about whatever you are trying to create. This can be in the form of explicit or tacit knowledge but the difference between ‘knowledge’ and ‘specific knowledge’ is depth. Do people’s eyes glaze over when you start talking about the nuances of your project or do they chime in with helpful tips? You want a catalog of facts so great that people’s eyes glaze over because they can’t fathom the depths of your knowledge. You need more knowledge if people are still giving you tips and tricks.
You also need vast, cross-functional knowledge. This means you know a bit about a lot of things. Try to expose yourself to different topics. Read a magazine on archeology or tattoo artists. Listen to a podcast about voice over acting, challenges of motherhood, or how to overcome writer’s block. Watch more informational television and videos. TEDTalk is one of my favorite websites to visit to expand my horizons. You can come up with very innovative ways to solve a problem if you are aware of how other communities have solved a similar problem.
Commitment & Passion
Commitment and passion are your proverbial coffee. What stimulates you? What are you doing when you get totally lost in the moment? How do you like to spend your off-hours? All of these questions should lead you to what stimulates your creative juices. After a long hike, I come back to the table with a fresh perspective and a strong desire to create something. Some of my other friends are inspired by the ‘right’ music even if that music sounds like nails on a chalk board to me. Drinking coffee and people watching at Starbucks is another way to find inspiration. Just the other day, a WordPress MeetUp inspired me. The South Bay WordPress MeetUp was so awesome I could barely wait to put down some of my more profound thoughts and blog ideas #sbwpmeetup.
The only criteria for determining your commitment and passion is that it should spur you to work on your project. You should have a burning desire to create or innovate and that desire is only satisfied when you are working on it.
Crayons are how we express ourselves. It is our outlet. I have been a writer (small ‘w’) since high school but it wasn’t until I began blogging that I became a Writer (big ‘W’). Blogging is my outlet and one of the many ways I have increased my self-esteem as a writer. It has also encouraged me to stretch outside of my comfort zone which is the only direction I can move if I want to continue to create and innovate. Your outlet should not only allow you to express your creativity or innovation, it should also spur you expand your skill set and challenge you to go the extra mile.
So, break out your coffee and crayons and get to work on your next innovation project. Don’t hold back either. If you are having a difficult time, take a few boxes of crayons and blank paper to a group of 5-year-olds and let them show you how it is done. We typically don’t have to teach kids to be creative and innovative. We train them over the years to conform which is the opposite of innovation.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
How do you stimulate your inner creative? Share your thoughts below.