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Inspiring creative thinking by debunking common myths

4 min read


Creativity breeds fresh ideas, but the stigma that creativity is an indefinable and unattainable quality steers us toward old processes that yield predictable answers.

Brian Stone is a principal partner in the international consultancy Latitude 40 Design, as well as an associate professor in the design department of Ohio State University. He found that many of his students believe real creativity is elusive, saying things that allude to the idea of a magic bullet or some kind of potion you can take to make yourself creative.

Innovation is not only for those seemingly blessed with innate innovative talent — we can all have it. And smart organizations and teams are countering the traditional methods of ideation in order to develop new ways of thinking and approaching business challenges. To inspire your team to be innovative start by debunking these common myths of creative thinking:

Myth No. 1: “I’m not a creative person.”

Misperceptions about creativity are common, especially this one. In reality, most innovators have had to learn how to be creative, or they have had many failed attempts at an idea until that “eureka” moment strikes. Creative processes and principles are easy to learn, but practice and persistence are required before they produce results. For business analysts, sales professionals and all the other self-proclaimed “non-creatives,” encourage them to draw on creative processes instead of thinking solely in terms of mechanics. Help them combine artistic and analytic thinking in different capacities to create both strategic and creative ideas.

Myth No. 2: “Innovation doesn’t apply to my role.”

This mindset creates a mental block that prevents employees from incorporating creativity into their work. It’s important as a business leader to make it known that innovation is a business function that is crucial to all divisions of a company. It wins deals, boosts credibility in your market space and creates the opportunity to differentiate business solutions for clients. Let your team know that you will have frequent check-ins to decipher what’s happening and what your business can do to stay current, gain a competitive edge and outpace the competition.

Myth No. 3: “I don’t work for a creative company.”

Tough to hear, but it’s also feedback you need to pay attention to. Innovation is a common buzzword in today’s business circles, but often organizations boast a simple veneer of company innovation — a portrayed feel. Understandably, there are constraints to being creative such as deadlines, manpower, costs and so forth, but as a business leader, it’s your responsibility to push the envelope and inspire the team to do the same. Realistically, creativity happens at the individual or small-group level, so it’s important to set the tone for your organization by spearheading the idea that your organization thinks and works differently.

Some outcomes of creativity are subjective. This is why one person will love a painting while another will look at the same piece of art and not related to it at all. Businesses are marked by goals, expectations and objectivity, demanding a different type of creativity — one in which everyone doesn’t feel something different about a picture but simply sees the same picture. The big picture.

What roadblocks are you experiencing in regard to inspiring company-wide creativity? What have you found to be successful in motivating your team to be innovative?

Mark Donnolo is managing partner of SalesGlobe, a leading sales effectiveness consulting firm. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with IBM, Comcast, AT&T, Office Depot, KPMG, LexisNexis, Accenture and Verizon, among many Fortune 1000 companies. He is the author of two books on the subject: “The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results” and “What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation.” Connect with him on Twitter @SalesGlobeForum and on LinkedIn.

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