When speaking to groups on innovation and creativity, I always ask the question, “Are you creative?” Typically, about 25 will say “Yes”.
Yes. That includes you. You were born creative. You were born to create. If you think otherwise, stay tuned. NASA developed a test for creativity in the 60’s (the 1960’s). They have tested thousands of people of all ages and here is what they have found:
At age five, 98 of us are creative. Sadly, by age 25, only 5 are still “creative”. What happens during those 20 years? Inhibitions, fears, unlearning our creativity, the “right” answer syndrome? Yes.
Fact is, the creative genes we were born with are not gone. They didn’t disappear. They’ve just been repressed and hidden behind walls of “rational” thinking, limits, and can’t do attitudes. After years of education that says there is only one right answer, after years of being ridiculed for thinking “different” or outside the box, it’s easy to start thinking you are not creative. Part of the problem is the definition of creativity.
We tend to think of artists, musicians and inventors as the “creative” ones… probably because they start outside the box and rarely go inside. Truth is, creativity comes in many forms and in all types of people.
Creativity is the process of identifying a problem, studying the facts, identifying potential solutions, then planning and implementing a solution. Only one of those steps is what we traditionally call “creative” but without the other steps, (and the people that drive them) there would be no creativity. As Confuscious said, “To know and not do is to not know.”
There are four problem solving styles: Transformers – these are the folks that transform problems into ideas. Examiners – the folks that like to study, research, and contemplate ideas. Architects – planners, schedulers and organizers. Movers – the doers, the action figures. Together, they form an IDEA TEAM.
Individually, it’s easy to spin our wheels, hesitate, lack direction. Together, problems get solved. Creativity is realized. Whether you think you are creative or not, you can play an important role in the creative process. So, (1) recognize your approach to problem solving, (2) build a diverse team that will contribute to the solution, and (3) get to work being creative.
I took a quick, very unscientific survey recently. It was a one question survey: When you think of Walmart, do you think of innovation? 100 of the answers were the same… “no”. Walmart is just a big ol’ store with lots of stuff at low prices. No innovation, right? Think again.
There’s an unwritten rule in every industry that says “We all go to market the same way.” It’s a dumb rule and I’ve been preaching against it for 35 years. I wish I could say I wrote the book on the subject, but Marty Neumeier beat me to it. More on that in a moment. (more…)
A couple of months ago, I introduced you to Poppi, our six year old YorkiePoo. Today, we say goodbye to Poppi. We lost our little Poppi dog last week in one of those freak accidents that makes you wonder how the earth manages to turn on its axis and how we keep from spinning off into space. It was sudden, it was tragic, and it made us want to pause the world. (more…)
Last Saturday, I jumped in the truck, turned on the radio, and there he was… the local DJ with the used car dealer urging me to “Come on down right now for free pizza, a chance to spin the wheel, and drive away in a certified preowned, like-new car with zero down and no interest… ” I had to laugh.
You know the routine. You’ve heard it. Maybe you even responded to it. But did you really buy a car because there was free pizza? Did you really believe today’s offer was a “once in a lifetime” deal?
No. You bought the car because you needed a car and you found the car you liked at the price you found reasonable. The advertising just happened to connect with you at the same time you had a need or interest.
This is where so many marketers get lost. They confuse communication with selling and adopt a “used car salesman” approach to their communication. It’s dangerous territory. When you communicate “buy now”… especially on a major purchase… you diminish the value of your product or service and, more importantly, you insult your potential customer.
To start with, people are not stupid. If you assume they are, you will treat them that way and they will know it. On the other hand, if you treat them with respect, they will respond with respect. Your message IS your brand, so choose your message carefully. You don’t have to tell people to “buy now”, “call today” or “apply now”. The more you do, the more you act like a commodity. The more you act like a commodity, the less respect your brand receives in the marketplace.
The used car salesman has an image because he acts like a used car salesman. Don’t be that guy.
Carney & Co and Marketing Innovation
We use a powerful, unique ReVision™ process to uncover innovation, generate bigger ideas, and produce better results for our clients.
Learn more at www.carneyco.com.
When we ReVision a client, we start the day with a few simple rules that begin with “Leave your ‘buts’ at the door”. You know the “but” people. They follow every new idea with a “but”. “But we tried that.” “But we can’t afford that.” “But we’ve never done that before!” (more…)
I just heard a public service announcement for the Highway Patrol. You’ve heard it before – “This is trooper B. R. Jones reminding you that speed kills. Slow down this holiday weekend. Yadda, yadda.
Anyone that has driven on Germany’s autobahn can tell you that speed is not the enemy. When you are driving along at 130-140 kph and an Audi zooms by you like you’re sitting still, you get a whole new appreciation for “speed” and you totally understand it is NOT speed that kills. The statistics prove it: Germany’s fatality rate is nearly half that of the U.S.
It’s not complicated. When you’re driving with your knees while holding a coffee cup in one hand and a donut in the other while talking on you bluetooth and answering texts, sooner or later, you’re gonna die. In Germany, it is illegal to even use a cell phone while driving, but I promise you, when you are on the autobahn, you are focused on one thing and one thing only…driving. It’s a matter of self preservation. You take your eyes off the road for a millisecond and you are in trouble. In reality, increased speed results in better driving. It’s distractions, lack of concentration, apathy and downright stupidity that kills, and that is the problem officer Jones should be discussing.
But that’s not really the point of this blog post.
It is this kind of (speed kills) thinking that kills innovation. Conventional wisdom says it’s not “logical” or “practical” to do something, and we immediately drop an otherwise great idea and miss an opportunity to solve a problem or create something new. It’s only when we question the status quo that we create. It’s only when we embrace counter-intuitive thinking that we open doors. Next time you hear something that sounds like conventional thinking, challenge it. You’ll be amazed what you will find.