In this modern business world where customers are increasingly demanding and competitors increasingly innovative, the pressure is on for us businesses to continually improve our products and services, keep our costs down and increase the value of everything we do for our clients and customers.

This requires a lot of creativity and in knowledge-based industries where people are required (and paid!) to use their brain, the best creative ideas tend to come from the people at the customer face.

So what is creativity?

When we think of creativity, we tend to think of the arts when in fact, creativity has very little to do with art.

Creativity is the act of turning new ideas into reality and it is characterised by the ability to perceive what’s in front of us in new and imaginative ways, to transcend traditional ideas or rules and patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated things and to establish meaningful new interpretations.

Most importantly though, creativity is about output.

Without an output, what you have is imagination, not creativity

Have you ever worked on an issue or problem only to find the more you work on it, and the harder you think about it, the more you keep going over the same thought patterns and getting the same result?

There is a biological reason for this

As we repeat our thought process, we strengthen the neurological pathways in our brain, making it physiologically easier to follow the same route next time.  This is really useful when the brain is learning things to create unconscious competence (like learning to drive) but it’s not very useful when we are seeking to be innovative!

Finding new ways of looking at or doing things, or designing new products or procedures requires the creation of new neurological pathways and the best way to achieve this is to work collaboratively.

Collaboration results in better creativity

When we work with someone else on a problem or challenge, their knowledge and experience (or sometimes their lack of knowledge and experience), and the differing perspective that they have as a result, leads to greater creativity.  Assumptions get challenged, inconsistencies are identified and worked through and seeds of ideas get taken to the next level.  This often works in an escalating fashion as each contribution from each party creates new creative pathways in the other.

This is simply not possible to achieve in isolation.

Collaboration isn’t a nice-to-have in business.  Collaboration is essential

So, next time you have an issue or a challenge in your business, or you are reviewing your product or service, coming up with a new route to market, or want to create an entire new offering, get the team together, facilitate a brainstorming session and get creative!

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