In these days creativity is still a rare and underused skill! Why? Are you asking, or not!!! Well, a lot of reasons can be accountable for, among them are some old habits, routines or cultural aspects that very vivid in the managerial world are still strong inhibitors of creativity. In this post I would like to focus on something I consider a bad habit, cultural or not, something that inhibits heavily creative and innovatory processes. I would like to talk about labeling. Who has the syndrome of labeling everything?
Obviously, labels can be positive, it will always depend on what one is doing! If one is doing Market research, consumer behavior analysis or simply searching in the internet, labeling can be very useful in order to make sense out of an huge amount of information and data. Abnormally or not, the positive side of labeling coincides with its negative one. At the same time that labeling allows people to categorize and put similar stuff in a common drawer, it also eliminates uniqueness and reduces everything to a degree of similarity. By enclosing things inside drawers and boxes, not leaving them breathing nor trespassing to the neighbor, labeling avoids all the interaction and mixture between different aspects and leaves out all the creativity, innovation and outside-of-the-box effect. How can one allow the overuse of such a powerful uniforming tool in the era of differentiation and tailor made products? Creativity, innovation or even leadership need label-free environments, places where one can play around with concepts and ideas and think really outside of the box. Labels and preconceived ideas bring rigidity into processes leaving people with little ability to break barriers and try new things out, key aspect in the commencement of this 21st century.
On a different angle, I also believe that we live in a world with too much labeling and too less uniqueness! Where the first thing someone wants to do when meeting someone is to put her inside a drawer and labeling. Labeling can also be very negative when doing business and negotiating. When negotiating, please do yourself a favor and do not label people, otherwise you can end up losing the negotiation. By putting people inside drawers one is reducing the scope, missing the key information behind the obvious, blurring one’s sensibility and failing to truly understand everything involved. When negotiating, selling, doing business or leading, avoid labels, and drawers, and your likelihood of succeeding will rise exponentially.
Lessons learned, pay attention to overuse, misuse and wrong use of labeling (categorization, tagging…), it can harm your creativity, inhibit innovation, or damage your leadership and company.
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What I like more in the social media and all these internet and web stuff is the easiness of sharing, connecting and commenting on each others’ ideas. Social Media is doing its job and helping people getting more into sharing, communicating, and building up on others’ ideas. People is becoming more open to exercise their own creativity and innovatory abilities. People like to share and comment on other’s work, obviously that this is much easier today than it was a couple of years ago, nevertheless, this social change brought by the advancement in technology is boosting the whole phenomenon. Commenting, sharing and building up on other’s ideas is for me the basis of Brainstorming! Online or Offline, Brainstorming is a powerful tool and in my point of view, a competitive advantage for those doing it. Brainstorming has become a tool to generate a higher level of innovation and boost creativity. Honestly speaking I am a huge fun of brainstorms! I know that sometimes one ends up with a bunch of people trying to brainstorm and nothing happens. Though, the right question here is the Why! Why is it not working?
For several different reasons like, wrong people or place, or more important, wrong leader. So, another key question is, How can you take fully advantage of its amazing potential? For starters, Brainstorming only works if people is doing it in fully awareness of what it is at stake and able to speak freely. Meaning, only if you have a strong team spirit, a motivated team and you rewards their participation and willingness to share you will be able to profit from it. However, not having the “right” leader in charge of stirring, coordinating and conducting the whole meeting it is also a common and the most important mistakes! Even for brainstorms you need some order and rules, and nothing better to do that than having someone capable of leading the whole discussion. If you want to have a good, efficient, and fruitful brainstorming you must appoint a Leader to be in charge.
Another key question again, What kind of traits must be present in a Brainstorm Leader? In my point of view, first of all you will need someone with a good sense of what a Shaper and an Evaluator are. A Shaper will challenge people, be dynamic, provide the drive and courage to overcome obstacles and take some action. On the other side as an Evaluator, she will be sober, strategic, logical and more important she will see all the options and keep track on the good ones. And on top of everything, you will need someone who has a good sense of humor, a sharp common sense, an ability to stir ideas in order to think outside the box, a good moderator and communicator. Someone who knows how to ignite innovation and creativity, motivates people to build up on others ideas and suggestions, and more important someone who does not judge or inhibit people to take risks or share their opinions!
If Brainstorming can be seen as a competitive advantage, and I believe it can, companies must pay more attention to it and have better leaders to manage it. I have seen amazing brainstorm sessions where solutions are found, new ideas brought in to the table and a boost in creativity and innovation accomplished! If companies must innovate and be creative nothing better than start using social media to do it but also never forget to do it offline, in-house with your company’s employees. You will be surprised with what you end up with, an amazing set of creative and innovatory ideas.
Tip: Include brainstorming in your weekly tasks, do it at least once a week and you will see the changes after a couple of months! Your company will be much more open to new ideas, creating and innovating more, and your team will be more motivated and productive than ever.
Do not hesitate in contacting us if you want some more tips on Brainstorming or Share tips with us!
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I have been noticing lately that too many people face decision making with tremendous difficulty, like it was a headache or a negative thing…! Well, although I understand way people feel such a terrible pain, I could not disagree more with that behavior and negativism. Contrariwise, I look at decisions as an opportunity to do something differently or try something new. When I face a situation where I have to take a decision, I normally look at it as a positive thing rather then a headache!
As I mentioned in one of my latest posts – Stop the routine, before the routine stops you – routines can keep you off from being competitive, creative and also dynamic; three key traits for the 21st century. Routine can move you away from innovative paths and future oriented approaches, professionally or privately speaking. Decision-making can also be helpful and part of being creative, innovative or future-oriented! Entrepreneurship and Leadership is also about how to face decision-making, transforming this into opportunities. Opportunities to start something new or do something ordinary in a different and more competitive way. An entrepreneur should not let her company reach a point of no-turn-back, a position where it is much more difficult, if not impossible, to do a turnaround. Entrepreneurs and Leaders in general should be very attentive towards their company, avoiding being caught in a compromising situation such as a weak market positioning or an unappropriated team – a team with the wrong skills and profile. Decision-making situations along with a no-routine policy can help a company staying competitive and keeping a strong market positioning. So, in my viewpoint, decisions are an opportunity to do better, differently and fight routine back. Next time you face a decision-making situation look at it as an opportunity and not as a headache and you will see how great things can be when you have the adequate behavior toward situations like decision-making or routine stuations!
Decisions are opportunities, and opportunities are rare, so please take it wisely!
How important is diversity for your business? A question that any single entrepreneur should ask when starting a company. Nowadays it is quite common to hear companies saying out loud that they have a diversity policy regarding their people and teams. Though, I must say that too many times this is just a branding campaign made convey a message of “respect” by diversity to its key stakeholders. But, in some countries there are quotas ( a minimum percentage) that companies must fulfill regarding certain factors of discrimination, like gender or ethnicity. Nevertheless, a quota is just a quota, and unfortunately it does not change mentalities or real discrimination! Howsoever, it is some times the only way to achieve equal treatment and opportunity to everybody!
A more interesting approach to diversity can only happen after the acknowledgment of its positiveness toward human kind’s evolution. In my point of view, it is amazingly important what a company, a business, can gain with a strong and real diversity policy. However, for this to be truly accomplished, the Human Resources Department (aka People Department aka Human Capital Department aka other any name used for the department running the department related to everything related to people) should have a seat at the board of directors, the place where every single corporate and business strategy is discussed. Why? Well, how can a company define a business strategy without having a serious and well done analysis on the needs and impacts of it on the company’s most precious “asset”, its people? It is, in my viewpoint, impossible to define and implement a business strategy without having the responsible for the people strategy seated at the Board’s table discussing and brainstorming on the company’s key issues. I am leaving this subject for another post or posts, due to the complexity of the subject! I am now more interested in discussing a more specific subject: how can diversity be faced as a competitive advantage for your business? I have written about non-regular factors of competitiveness like happiness, sense of humor, motivation, or people in general. I am here today to discuss diversity as a factor of competitiveness! How can it work? Well, let’s start by explaining what diversity means to me, it means people with different: cultural background, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or demographics. Although, my definition is not a scientific one, it is the way I perceived reality! Reality is full of differences, people absorb that differences, becoming different themselves! Globalization brought together people from different regions, countries, continents. People with different ways of living, believes or faiths. People with different social, cultural, educational, religious backgrounds, that are mixing and evolving together and generating an enriched melting pot full of diversity! These richness can and should be used by companies and organizations in a positive and inclusive way! Companies should be the privileged place where the melting pot happens, and grow! Why? Because diversity, in this sense, can help finding new ways of working, new ideas, innovation, new experiences, new approaches, …! An old saying says: Two heads think better than one! I would like to add that two “different” heads can make miracles! Creativity and innovation are boosted through diversity, and a company can gain a lot by having a diversity policy! Even us, mere human beings, can profit from the interaction with diversity, people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. However, to do so, companies and people must have an open-mind and a true respect by other’s opinions and believes.
Myself, I have learned a lot by interacting with people with different ethnicities, and cultural and religious backgrounds! I have seen the melting pot in action, and I must say that it is amazing the high level results companies can achieve if working with diversity!
Along my life I have seen a lot of awkward things! But the worst was to see a company with no strategy and a leader without vision! How can a business survive if it has no vision? A simple dream to be accomplished or a line in the horizon to be pursuit ? How can one survive without goals and objectives? Well, unfortunately a lot of companies do the same mistake over and over! First, they don’t have a vision; Second, they don’t have a strategy because they don’t have a vision; And, third, they hire a manager to manage a company with no vision nor strategy. what kind of people can they hire? A no-leader for sure, because no leader would accept a challenge when the company has no vision nor strategy. The only case where I can see a leader accepting this challenging is the case where she has a mandate to change it! Develop a vision and design a strategy! Although you have a vision and a strategy, you are still missing the last part of it, a plan to implement it! Again, I have seen a lot of companies ruining their positioning due to a wrong implementation plan! Easily one can say that to have the right start up base you need a vision, a strategy and an implementation plan! Obviously that you can have all of this and still fail, so another key ingredient is people! Talented people, high potential people, committed people, motivated people, creative people, innovative people…Well, I think you understood my viewpoint here. I know that the idea of having a triangle is much more sexy than a square though, here we are dealing with a square! Vision, Strategy, Implementation & People: a square that gives a company a truly opportunity to succeed! Nevertheless, don’t forget that people must be led and motivated, and that not only the vision, strategy and implementation are important!
An amazing Japanese old saying says: “Vision without Action is a daydream, but Action without Vision is a nightmare” and I would like to add: Vision and Action without people are Impossible! People Management is key to win the challenges ahead!
Why repeating old routines or play the old same “game” until exhaustion? Why not try out different stuff? Why not try different stuff out? I don’t believe people haven’t understood yet how crucial it is to stop routine! How can one be creative if is still doing the same things over and over without having the guts or time, or whatever is the excuse to try new things out?
A while ago I wrote – I like stress and you? – about being prepared for stressful and tough situation! And, How going outside of one’s comfort zone can be helpful on preparing you for future situations! Now I am saying: try out new things as a way of improving your creativity and innovative abilities! I know, I know, sometimes it is not easy! You do not have the time, or the mental availability, or your are too stressed with your deadlines! OK, I understand! However, find a way to free up time to do it because it will help you out. Start with easy things like a new restaurant instead of the regular one; Or, go to a different gym and try different classes; Go to a new bar and try a new drink; Go shopping in a new neighborhood; Walk home by a different route; Listen to a different radio station in your way home; Read a book that you have never thought about; Easy, isn’t it? I like to call this the Lab Routines! You use a routine situation to try out something new and enjoy different sensations and emotions! Ah, and never forget to write down your experience in order to maximize what you can take out of it! The Lab Routines can bring something consciously or unconsciously to your mind! I have seen and experienced myself a lot of different situations: an emotion that unlocked a solution to a problem; an extraordinary idea that pop up on your mind; a visual detail that you can use; or simply a good time that helped you relaxing and being more focused on the following day. So, as you can see it can work in different ways but always with impact on you and your creativity and ability to innovate! If you want to be competitive in this highly challenging century please stimulate your creativity and ability to innovate, and never forget to develop your uniqueness! Please, be yourself! Routine kills the creativity and innovation!