What Recession – reasons to be cheerful

The recession may have touched us all but it is not nearly as bad as the pundits and commentators would have us believe. One or two businesses have gone under but I am here and you are still here reading this. We are all still ‘in the game’ so we have some of the skills and resources necessary to survive. We must at the very least be capable of examining our external environment and reacting to it in a positive manner. We are flexible, adaptable, resourceful and understand our own competencies.

A downturn is a good time to plan and watch what others are doing. Take a look at your competitors, visit their shops and trade stands or use their services. See how your competitors are handling the bad times, take on board their good ideas and learn from the bad ones. In short be ready to beat them when the time is right. Use this slack time to review your own business, something you will not have time to do in the busier times ahead. Now is also a good time to woo new clients even if they are not going to buy from you right now. Understand them and listen to their woes. We are experts in our field.

We know that things are cyclical and so we can safely assume that after the crash will come a period of growth once more. We cannot say for sure what the timescales will be but we know that it will happen. We have demonstrated our flexibility in surviving initially and then been cunning in our approach to observing our competitors, creating a plan and acquiring resources. We have a business that will thrive when the time is right. In the meantime, leverage your expertise and assist your customers to save money or add value for existing customers (without charging them extra). We thoroughly understand our customers and our marketplace.

So you:

  • are flexible, adaptable, resourceful and self aware
  • experts in your field
  • thoroughly understand your customers and your marketplace

Congratulations, you are now innovating!

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Creativity – Getting It Right (Part 2)

There are a number of things that can be done to ensure that creativity workshops go with a bang or at least a colourful fizz and meet the objectives so carefully set out for them. Here are a few more suggestions to build on those I gave you in a previous article.

Invite appreciative inquiry – the good news is this, you don’t have to teach people how to be creative. They already are. All you need to do is facilitate the process that helps people access the part of themselves that is already creative. One way to do this is to help participants recall a time in their lives when creativity was flourishing for them. Known as “appreciative inquiry,” you are simply allowing participants to wax lyrical about past successful creative ventures – no matter how small. These animated reflections will really get the creative juices flowing.

Don’t think, do! – brainstorming sessions, are “head sessions,” requiring a significant amount of thinking. But that is not the only way to get at good ideas. In fact, one of the best ways to quicken the appearance of good ideas is to “not think.” Mozart used to exercise before sitting down to compose, the holder of the most patents ever liked to swim underwater before he invented and Socrates used to take his students for a walk. Somehow, these seemingly mindless excursions free up brainpower. The best and fastest way to accomplish this is with hands-on, interactive problem-solving activities that have high relevance to the brainstorming challenge or group dynamic.

Tell stories – story telling is a great way to help people get insights and make creative connections. That’s why great teachers, since the beginning of time, have used parables to make their point. The stories we recommend you tell are what we call “teaching” stories – that is, intriguing stories with a moral. Or, they may be business-related stories concerning best practice or interesting case studies relevant to the brainstorm topic. It can be useful to intersperse these stories throughout your session, especially after participants have been working hard and need a breather.

Invite humour and playfulness – the right use of humour is a great way to help people tap into their right brains. Indeed, “haha” and “aha” are closely related. Both are the result of a surprise or discontinuity. You laugh when your expectations are confronted in a delightful way. Please note, however, that your use of humour must not be demeaning to anyone in the room. Freud explained that every joke has a victim and is used by the teller to gain advantage over the victim, that is, it’s used to affirm power. And we know that when we’re getting into the realm of power and the yielding of power, we are using our left-brains. Even more important than “joke telling” is a free flowing sense of playfulness. Everyone likes to play. The more you can achieve the goals of your session by interjecting playfulness into the process, the better.

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