‘You can upgrade your business and push it forward if you find, new, creative solutions.’ This might be something you have heard a thousand times and it is practically becoming a cliche. But one of the reasons so many different experts mention it is that it actually has merit. And it concerns practically any form of your business operation. It could be something like outsourcing content marketing or shaping your brand identity.
In any case, it is creative solutions that can and will make any business stand out. But what does a creative solution in business actually entail? As learning experts define it, a creative solution, in a business world, focuses on approaching a problem with unexpected ideas. Why is the focus here on unexpected? For a very simple reason. If the business is not pushing forward or the pace is too slow, “the expected ideas have already failed to solve the issue in the first time, and also because it is often helpful to break away from traditional systems in order to assert a business identity.”
Now, such creative solutions might come from within the business organization itself. These can include making the most of the skills in-house, making more productive use of the time in the office, or simply brainstorming effectively.
More often than not though, even when trying to find such internal solutions, you need to enlist outside help to find creative solutions. They can include engaging specialist agencies or one or a set of freelancers that can push this step forward.
“A good idea is synonymous with business growth, whether it is a new product, a brilliant communication campaign, and even a sponsorship project.” Good ideas are tricky to find “when you sit all day at your desk.”
This post has been updated in September 2021.
The process of finding creative solutions
But, how do you approach the process of finding creative solutions that will suit your needs the best?
Many experts focus on the process of right collaboration within a business organization as a way to find the right creative solutions. Still, on the other hand, others, like Ken Sterling, think that you need to involve outside help, particularly those that have different opinions and ideas. As he puts it, “one of the deadliest barriers to innovation is the notion that conflict should be prevented.”
“Cultivating constructive conflict in the workplace through a diversity of perspectives is necessary for sustained creativity.” Authors Jeff and Stand Degraff actually wrote a book ‘The Innovation Code that lists our steps to create constructive conflict in an organization. “After studying innovation for years in Fortune 500 companies, they believe the best way to create this constructive conflict is to gather a diversity of world views and use them to create innovative solutions.”
These are the steps they recommend:
- Assemble a diversity of perspectives. In order to innovate, all four dominant world views should be represented. These are Artist, Engineer, Athlete, and Sage.
The Artist seeks radical innovation and pursues revolutionary breakthroughs like Steve Jobs. The Artist takes chances and adapts quickly. The opposite is the Engineer, who is systematic and disciplined, similar to Warren Buffet. Engineers improve efficiency and value consistency.
Athletes are forceful leaders and competitors like Tim Cook, who look to generate profit and revenue. To manage the team’s innovation you need the athlete’s opposite–the Sage. Sages are diplomats and facilitators. They create strong relationships through effective communication and trust like Jack Ma.
- Initiate a constructive conflict. Constructive conflict or “meaningful dissent is not disagreement. It is about understanding a multiplicity of views to arrive at a hybrid solution.”
More on constructive conflict
During the process of constructive conflict, “you need to be patient, open-minded and give equal time for opposing points of view. Keep your team on track by providing goals, milestones, and a timeline.”
- Find a shared goal or vision. Such a team should know what the end goal is. “It is important to ensure everyone works toward the same goal. To verify, each member of the team should describe the problem (i.e., their idea of the current vision/goal) at each stage of planning and execution.”
- Come up with a hybrid solution or solutions. The end goal is to come up with a hybrid solution or solutions and finally focus on one of those. “The key to creating hybrid solutions is taking two great, but very different ideas, and figuring out the best way to fit them together.”
Getting creative solutions outside your field of work
As Inc.com, notes a group of European experts wrote another creative solutions aspect in Harvard Business Review. According to that concept, “looking outside of your field can often produce more successful outcomes.”
As those experts wrote, “there’s great power in bringing together people who work in fields that are different from one another yet that are analogous on a deep structural level. Such as makeup and surgical infections, surprisingly. Or inventory management and robot games. Or malls and mines.”
“Looking to analogous fields often leads to radical innovation that you wouldn’t necessarily find sticking to your own field. People in analogous fields are drawing on a different wealth of knowledge and aren’t biased by existing principles and ideas in your field. This allows them the freedom to come up with novel ideas.”
The three professors say that their thesis has already played out in a number of real-life scenarios. For instance, one company developed a solution for preventing infections associated with surgery after speaking with a theatrical makeup specialist. Another company that needed a solution for tracking inventory learned from the sensors on miniature robot soccer players. Similarly, an escalator company borrowed ideas from the mining industry when figuring out how to install escalators in shopping malls.
One of the tips professors give is to pair thought leaders from analogous fields with experts in your field “to ensure that the ideas are applicable. An expert in an analogous field might not be familiar enough with your field to come up with the most useful ideas, so pairing their creativity with seasoned experts can yield the best results.”
Working the ideas out
The process of arriving at creative solutions almost always starts out with brainstorming sessions. Of course, such sessions can include internal and external experts, as well as those with the same or differing views.
But how do you kick-start any brainstorming session? Some experts that develop brainstorming software came up with the following suggestions:
- Start with bad ideas first. Begin the session off with an exercise where you throw out as many bad ideas as you can. “Not only will this set a more relaxed tone, but it will help get everyone’s creative juices flowing.”
- Use visual aids. Whether you use post-it notes and a whiteboard or an online diagramming tool, lay out your ideas in a visual way to gain clarity on the bigger picture. Having a panoramic view of an issue can help you organize your thoughts, see new insights into your problem, and make connections you otherwise wouldn’t.
- Looking at the problem from an opposite angle. For example, you are looking for a way to create more sales leads via your blog. “Come up with a list of every way you could hinder that process. When we understand our roadblocks more fully, we can create better strategies for preventing those things from happening.”
- Use similar business experiences. “Chances are the problem you’re trying to solve has been dealt with by many before you. You should research how others met the same challenges. Rather than repeating others’ mistakes, learn from them, and discover your own new ones.”
- Working out a possible scenario in action. Have two team members act out a scenario together to see where issues arise. Problems you wouldn’t have thought of using only imagination are much more likely to come about as you’re trying to work through them in reality.
More on working out creative solutions
- Set out idea boundaries. “One of the most common barriers to good ideas is thinking too broadly. Setting specific boundaries is much more effective when it comes to initiating creativity and innovation.”
- Stepping away from the problem for a while. Studies show that when we step away from a problem and do something else, our brains continue to think about the problem subconsciously.
- Working with SWOT charts. SWOT chart (listing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) can also be used for turning bad ideas into better ones. “A common mistake people make is assuming that good ideas always come in some sort of ‘eureka’ moments. In fact, most great ideas are made up of a lot of little ideas that evolved over time.”
- Approach things from an outsider’s perspective. How would a five-year-old approach this issue? What would someone from a different industry think of it?
- Challenging assumptions. If your problem seemingly has no solution, you might not really understand the question. List out all the assumptions your project is based on. If you find an assumption that isn’t supported by data or is flat out wrong, it’s time to rework your premise.
Tapping into outside sources
All the above concepts of finding creative solutions in one way or another indicate that new and innovative ideas will most probably come when you tap into outside sources. You just might find out that you need to search for more than one avenue of further development.
This development can be how to properly implement telecommuting work within your business. Or, you need to diversify your advertising mediums or come up with a case study that will boost the image of your business.
For any of the above, as well as any other set of creative solutions you may require, BunnyStudio offers a wide array of solutions.
These solutions can be found through its detailed list of carefully screened freelancers that have expertise in a number of fields that modern businesses need to rely on.