Written by Chipo Mapungwana
In this fiercely competitive and fast paced environment , creativity is not only an important way of building competitive advantage, but a necessity for entrepreneurial survival. To grow your business, entrepreneurs should guard against traditional ways of thinking that are followed by big corporates. These self- imposed mental constraints , when allowed to grow , create bureaucratic , cumbersome organisations where innovation is frowned upon and the status quo is the order of the day, many times to the detriment of the customer.
How do creative entrepreneurs think?
- They always ask the question “is there a better way?”
- They challenge customs, routine and tradition.
- They are prolific thinkers who generate a lot of ideas.
- They play mental games trying to see issues from different perspectives.
- They realise that there is more than one answer.
- They see problems as springboards.
- They have a helicopter view of issues.
Some Great inventions of the 21st Century
What did we do before the cellphone? I can’t remember.
These pre-pay plastic travelcards provide light-blue relief for 5 million Londoners facing the daily bedevilment of a decrepit transport system. Introduced in 2003, the Oyster is a contactless smartcard used to pay bus and tube fares without the need to fumble for cash.
As well as letting you buy or sell almost anything (handy), eBay has shifted power away from chain stores and back towards individuals (revolutionary). Now anyone can be a retailer.
How many former Spice Girls does it take to have a good idea? Just one – Miss Emma Bunton. On a night out, she and make-up designer Nina Leykind decided that they were fed up with trying to do their make-up in the back of a darkened limo. And lo, the Liparazzi was born. It’s a lipstick with a light. Click the button on the base of the shaft, and your mouth is cast in a bright spotlight.
One of the greatest ideas of recent times is the satellite navigation system, of which GPS (Global Positioning System) is perhaps the best known. The original motivation for satellite navigation was for military applications, both in the delivery of weapons and the strategic tracking of troops. However, numerous civilian uses have emerged over the past few years, with applications ranging from vast improvements in life-saving services, such as search and rescue operations, to the tracking of both people and wildlife.
Barriers to creative thinking
1) Searching for the right answer
Our educational system has ingrained in us that there is a right and wrong way to do things. In reality, most work problems are ambiguous.
2) Focusing on being logical
Focusing your efforts on being logical discourages the use of intuition. Using non-logical thinking enables us to connect ideas that we would never figure out through 1+1=2 thinking. From cellphones to spandex to cars running on sunshine, entrepreneurs are learning the value of creativity.
3) Blindly following the rules
We learn at a very early age to follow the rules. Rules are good as guidelines. But rules are bad for entrepreneurs wanting to start businesses that will surpass big businesses. Business success in a changing world means we have to have the ability to break the rule so that we do things differently.
4) Constantly being practical
If you were to suspend being practical for a day, you might be able to solve some of your nagging operational issues. Being practical means seeing your challenges as they are , what some people call being real. But your reality may not be the only reality. Ask a ten witnesses of an accident to tell you what happened and you will get ten different realities.
5) Viewing play as frivolous
A playful attitude is fundamental to creativity. There is a close relationship between the ha ha ha of laughter and the ahaa! of discovery. Entrepreneurs who want to grow into chartered territories need to relearn the joys of play and thinking like children.
6) Fearing looking foolish
Adults do not like to look foolish. But creative thinking is not a place for conformity. Entrepreneurship is by its very nature, destructive, because entrepreneurs need to create new ways to do business that will be different from other businesses.
How to enhance your creativity
- Embrace diversity by hiring a diverse workforce that thinks differently from you.
- Expect and tolerate failure because creative ideas may not always succeed.
- Encourage curiosity by constantly asking yourself “what if.”
- Reward staff who show initiative and innovation.
- Actively seek out creative ideas from your staff.
- View problems as challenges that offer opportunities for innovation.
- Learn how to use creativity building techniques.
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