In podcast episode 2, I discussed how creativity can be thought of as a “flash of insight” (a moment when a creative thought occurs; the ability to think of a new, original, innovative thought) as well as a process, in which the flash of insight is one step in the process.
The June 2008 issue of Inc Magazine had two articles, Making Inspiration Routine, by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan, which is more about creativity as a process, and How the Creative Stay Creative, by Leigh Buchanan, which is more about how to help those flashes of insight more likely to happen.
Lafley, Proctor & Gamble CEO, and Charan wrote The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation which “describes dozens of mechanisms for keeping the idea pipeline full”. In the Inc Magazine article, they describe scaled-down strategies more appropriate for a small business:
- Look for an underserved market. Segmenting your market can be a creative exercise itself. Try to identify a segment that is rarely treated as a segment.
- Use social networks to bring in ideas, as opposed to just using them to push out marketing messages.
- Brainstorm with employees’ network members to generate ideas; the more diverse the members the better. Promising ideas are flushed, written up, and submitted by a pair of employees who team up for collaboration on the idea.
- Ideas are formally evaluated based on their projected revenue and profit goals.
- For ideas that are chosen to go forward with, the ideas are prototyped and tested with the employees’ social networks.
- As the company grows, the innovation process scales upwards, e.g., with additional training on the creative process, hiring of more creative people, team structure, feedback.
In the How The Creative Stay Creative Article, Inc gives some insight on how top innovation consultants stay creative:
- Get multicultural
- Encourage risky behavior
- Provide lots of free time to think
- Hire people with good problem solving skills and who are open to criticism
- Have a way for employees to share their ideas
- Bring in outside experts to get their perspectives
- Be very flexible in how a team organizes itself and how it operates
- Mix teams up with people from other teams