The Smart Way to Harness Creativity


Businesses yearn for innovation, yet seem to get stuck on how to harness creativity within their organizations. Instead, they often seek assistance from outside agencies to do the ideation for them. As a result, we’ve seen some unbelievable yet underutilized talent and are often stumped as to why they have their blinders on. Below you will find some of our secrets to climbing outside of the box while still grounding those ideas in reality:

  1. Consider who put you in the box in the first place. While it’s often unintentional, the rut of everyday business can stifle creativity. New ideas are often ignored due to deadlines and urgent tasks. A great concept could be dismissed because it’s too out there or maybe the person is not high enough within the organization to be heard. Other times, it’s you who puts yourself in the box by thinking your ideas aren’t good enough. Creativity is like a light switch: the electricity is always ready — all that matters is that you are aware enough to turn it on.
  2. Become a master of the art of fusion. Sometimes the best way to step outside of the box (without stepping too far) is to adopt the art of fusion. You can find inspiration everywhere. So look beyond your industry, then mix those new ideas with something tried and true. Adopting something that’s working in another field may be the perfect addition to show validity. Even though companies say they want something new, they are often still somewhat risk averse, so this requires a careful balance.
  3. Switch up your daily routine to unleash ideas. Get out of your daily grind to prompt creative thinking or just try to view your day through a new lens. Keep innovation top of mind every waking moment. Even a simple task, such as going to a grocery store or filling your car with gas, can become a source of innovation. Instead of zoning out or daydreaming, look around and absorb what is right in front of you.
  4. Remember to keep it simple. Not all ideas have to change the world, but they do need to be easy to explain. If you can’t come up with an elevator pitch, you’ve probably stepped too far away from a solid idea. It’s OK to be a pie-in-the-sky dreamer, but it’s also important to make sure it’s something that can be communicated easily to the end user.
  5. Practice grounding your ideas. After you go far outside the box, try to see if you can fit your ideas back into the box. Ensure that the core principles of your product or service are not lost. Also, make sure it fills a gap in the market or has a unique enough positioning to stand out from the competition. If you do this before sharing your concepts, the review process will be simpler — and more convincing!

What other tips have you found useful when striving to encourage more innovative thinking?

Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry, is a brand builder with a proven track record in design, marketing, licensing and merchandising.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

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