Thinking outside the box [Archives:2002/45/Business & Economy]

November 4 2002

The Road Ahead
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Everyday businesses carry out their daily routines and operations following the same old patterns. But a business organization, in order to break through, needs to be creative, not only with its advertising, packaging and product development, but in every single issue. All things discussed and handled in the organization need to have a fair amount of creativity and innovation. Otherwise there will be no progress and harmful patterns will repeat forever. This is why managers should include thinking out of the box, or creative thinking, everyday.
To be creative, first you need to adopt three key factors to help in the process. They are motivation, attitude and focus. Motivation in the sense of curiosity and looking for new alternatives that work, alternatives that go far beyond the obvious ones. Attitude should be based on the belief that creative thinking can make a difference, and that includes the willingness to make an effort to create new possibilities. And then focus on the task of creativity.
Focus need not be limited to issues that are not problems, but also areas of improvements. For example a different sector of the organization can help in generating ideas for a problem elsewhere if enough focus and attention is given to the problem. Consider you are a music producer who is facing harsh competition. This is a problem. Now try looking at different departments in your organization and try to relate how improving them can help improve sales.
The archives for example. Now focus on the problem “tough competition” and the sector “archives” and try to relate. You might think of a creative solution for your problem; select a number of your best, all-times classics and out of these create and sell a favored collectors pack, and in turn create a competitive advantage for your company.
There are also a few tips that help in creative thinking, such as keeping a separate idea notebook to jot down any new or creative ideas that might occur in your mind anyplace anytime. Or the random-word technique that means selecting a random word and try to make use of it. For example: coffee! Coffee mug? Coffee’s smell? Coffee maker? And morning coffee? This to making use of words to create a new concept. Doesn’t the coffee’s smell remind you about coffee-drink? Then how about inventing a new alarm clock that along with ringing produces the coffee’s fragrance to remind you to make your coffee? This is what thinking out of the box is all about.
Endnote: Thinking out of the box requires one to train: through motivating oneself, having the right attitude and focusing on the issue. A few techniques can also help in the process.