Improve Creativity in Your Organization

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
— Albert Einstein

The value of creativity has been discussed by many business visionaries. Michael Dell said, “It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path at Dell.” Bill Gates said “I’ve always been an optimist and I suppose that is rooted in my belief that the power of creativity and intelligence can make the world a better place.”

Leaders often place a value on “thinking out of the box.” But if creativity is so important why do large and small companies often leave it to chance?

The development of creativity in your organization should be approached with conscious intent. You need to create an atmosphere that fosters creativity. Many organizations have gray cubicles, bare walls, bland conference rooms, and semi-isolated employees working in small areas covered by creativity-reducing colors, visions and sounds. How can we expect people in this environment to think creatively for our organizations?

So what can companies do to improve this most critical element called creativity? It is amazing how much can be done with a relatively small investment.

  • Replace standard corporate posters in conference rooms, hallways and offices with beautiful oil paintings. Hand-painted reproductions of great masters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt.
  • Invest in a simple sound system that plays classical music. If this is inappropriate in some work zones, designate break rooms and conference rooms for music. A study by the University of California, Irvine demonstrated that IQ scores rise significantly (although temporarily) when subjects are tested while listening to Mozart.
  • Designate a room a company “thinking room.” Place small toys, crayons, markers and paper in the room. Let employees express themselves in this room a few times a day. You can even have a mandatory “10 minutes thinking time.”

The ability to think creatively should not be the sole responsibility of the leader or CEO of the business. This function could be shared by all and by doing so increase the productivity of any company. The three steps listed above are simple to take and require a relatively small investment. It’s vitally important to enjoy this process and let your own creativity dictate the application of these steps.

Does success breed more success?

Have you ever watched a game or even played on a team that felt absolutely unstoppable? Both defensively and offensively you move faster then the opponent, you beat them to the spots consistently. It feels like you can’t loose, everything you touch turns into gold. Why is that? And why does the opposite happen?

The above also happens in business. When a business is “on a roll” things just seem to go right. Customers react better, vendors are more accommodating, and the media is talking about you. It seems like you can do no wrong. Of course, there is the flipside.

So, the question is what makes the difference? And if so, can we figure out a way to extend the good times and shorten the difficult ones? Can we even control this? Or is it just luck?

If success and the feeling of being successful is the main contributing factor to being on a roll or becoming unstoppable then maybe there are things we can do to extend or even manufacture the good times. When we create an aura of positive energy around our organization, when employees feel that they are winning, that something great is about to happen the business starts mobilizing toward the feeling of invincibility. Therefore, we should celebrate success more often. We should tell employees about the great new things that are happening. Even in slow times, even during a recession there are always victories. Even in difficult months when the company is not hitting projections or even when the company is not profitable there are still things to celebrate.

If we celebrate victories, if we thank employees for great performance, if we create a sense of unity of a greater purpose, then this mysterious positive energy will come. This amazing feeling of invincibility will come. Then success will come, and it will breed more success.

Try it! What do you have to loose. I can guarantee it will be fun and it might even change the course of your business.

Let Creativity Bring Success to your Business

The value of creativity has been discussed by many of today’s and yesterday’s business visionaries. Michael Dell said:

“It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path at Dell.”

The great Bill Gates said:

“I’ve always been an optimist and I suppose that is rooted in my belief that the power of creativity and intelligence can make the world a better place.”

Also one of the worlds most noted scientists Albert Einstein wrote

“Imagination is more important then knowledge.”

We all hear people mention the value of “being creative”, “thinking out of the box”, and the all too common “let’s brain storm on this”. So if business people are looking for creativity so hard why is it so hard to find? And if it’s so important why do large and small companies leave it to be completely by chance?

Successful businesses and business leaders do things with intent. The development of creativity needs to be approached in much the same way. The organization needs to create an atmosphere that fosters creativity. Walking into large and small business offices one sees gray cubicles, bare walls, small conference room. Semi-isolated employees in small areas covered by creativity removing colors, visions, and sounds.

So what can companies do to improve this most critical element called creativity. It is amazing how much can be done with such a small investment. First a company can replace the standard corporate in machinery posters in the conference rooms, hall ways and offices with beautiful oil paintings. Hand painted reproductions of great masters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and Klimt stimulate the creative juices of employees. The inspiration of these great visionaries have a unique affect on our creative mind. Investing in hand painted art as oppose to just a flat print is surprisingly inexpensive and the added life and impact is priceless.

The next stage is to invest in a simple sound system to play classical music. If it is inappropriate in some work zones then designate break rooms and conference rooms for music. A study by the university of California, Irvine demonstrated that IQ scores rise significantly, although temporarily, when subjects are tested while listening to Mozart.

Finally if you can designate a room that becomes your company’s (or branch if you have multiple locations) thinking room. It can be a conference room or a break room. It can be called the brain storm room, the think tank, the creativity center, or any other creative name. Incorporate the ideas listed above and add some comfortable furniture. Place some small toys, crayons, markers and paper. Let employees express themselves a few times a day. You can even have a mandatory “10 minutes thinking time”.

It is important to enjoy this process and let your own creativity dictate some of your steps.

Growing in the New Normal

As business people we are afraid of the recession. What will happen? Will customers buy nothing but absolute necessities? And if that happens where will we be? Out of a job or out of business? These are all scary thoughts.

Luckily for most of us the current recession hasn’t reached these dire conditions and though demand has been softer for most discretionary products it still exists. And as long as there is demand there are opportunities. The opportunities lie in two areas: The first area is reduction in supply that coincides with reduction in demand. The second opportunity is competing and taking market share from other members of the market. Both of these can play a roll in a company’s strategy to grow during a recession.

The first strategy is the easier and least costly of the two mentioned above. In the cycle of business and economics a recession has a tendency to clear the field. The weaker companies, the less fortunate companies, and the less prepared companies usually end up going out of business. And as they exit the market a vacuum is created. There are still customers looking to buy goods from those companies who no longer exist. And even if the customer list is purchased by a competitor, there is still no relationship with those customers.

The second strategy is more aggressive and requires focusing on specific customer requirements that might have changed due to the recession. It requires identifying that in a recession, especially a severe recession, most customers are more interested in protection from loss then they are achieving gains. So if you are able to reposition your message you will in many cases be able to take business away from competitors.

The real excitement comes when a company has been able to capitalize on the situation and is now positioned for explosive growth when the economy rebounds, assuming the company continues to perform on the same level and not get complacent.

So now the question is, what can you do to emerge from this recession stronger then you were? What new marketing avenues? What new customers or vertical market potentials exist now? Which customers might have been served well at one time by a vendor who is no longer in business? Also how can you reposition your message to appeal to a customer in the new normal? I would love to hear some comments.

Offer Free Return Shipping This Cyber Monday

In this economy consumers are looking for additional enticements from online retailers to stretch their holiday shopping dollars. On the morning of Cyber Monday, online retailers that remove fears and uncertainties from customers should stand out and win big.

One of the major inconveniences of the holiday shopping season is waiting in line, whether to purchase or return items. The nonstop promotions and the occasional “door busters” are making a quick stop at the mall a nuisance. This year instead of heading to the stores to bear these inconveniences, savvy holiday shoppers are going online due to the convenience of on demand hours, ability to compare prices and free shipping offers.

Consumers are looking for Free Return Shipping when they shop online this holiday season consumers are looking for Free Return Shipping when they shop online this holiday season In a recent shop.org eHoliday 09′ survey, potential online customers were asked what will drive them to shop online as opposed to the brick-and-mortar stores. These are the top 10 reasons why consumers will buy online this holiday season:

  1. 24-hour shopping convenience
  2. Ability to compare prices
  3. Free shipping offers
  4. Convenience
  5. Not wanting to fight crowds
  6. Ease of finding wanted items
  7. Variety
  8. E-mail promotions
  9. Not having to pay sales tax
  10. Wanting to avoid checkout line

In addition, participants of the survey were asked to rate how free return shipping affects their buying decision. According to the results, over half of online consumers stated that free shipping for returns is “Very Important” to them, yet only a limited number of retailers plan to offer such a promotion to their customers this holiday season.

One retailer who offers free return shipping is overstockArt.com, an online art gallery of hand painted oil paintings. According to CEO David Sasson, overstockArt.com knows that especially during the holidays when entertaining guests is a high priority, customers need to love the art that hangs on their wall: “Our company motto is a commitment to wall art happiness” says Sasson, “Our focus is on our customers and we understand that happy customers help us grow our business and help us spread the story of overstockArt.com oil paintings.”

Sasson, along with Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, call this a customer intimate strategy. They both understand that allowing people to easily return online removes many of the fears, uncertainties and doubts of online shopping.

According to the shop.org findings, having a customer intimate strategy this holiday season will drive customers to shop online rather than the brick-and-mortar stores. Companies that will embrace the customer and offer high quality products will enjoy a successful holiday shopping season.