Category: Blog

Newsletter – Why brainstorming does not work!

Dear Reader,

If you are reading this because a friend or colleague was kind enough to forward it to you, then you might like to sign up for your very own copy by clicking here.

As we are now heading towards the holiday season many readers will be winding down. Hopefully, I can provide a little entertainment and some useful titbits in this rather odd period of the year.


#justthinking

At this time of year retailers are all desperate for our business. Keep an eye open for good examples of customer service, and good ideas generally that you could adopt. I saw some excellent examples of how to treat a customer at a high end candle shop and also a jewellers. At the opposite end of the scale, I noticed some very poor examples at a large chain store. Definitely no Magic & Sparkle there!


#justsaying

Would you like to achieve more with less effort? Yes really. Well a spot of fluffy thinking is what you need. Get in touch to find out how a spot of alternative thinking could help you and your organisation.


How many of you saw the subject of this email and thought ‘What is he on about, of course it works!’. Well for dramatic effect I did leave out ‘a lot of the time’.

Have you had this experience?

How many times has somebody summoned you to a meeting room using the words ‘ let’s go and brainstorm the solution to this problem?’ And how many time has it not worked very well or maybe not at all? And when it did not work did you put it down to the facilitator, or perhaps the problem was too hard, or maybe you just did not give it long enough?

Well, there is a reason for this, you were most likely using the wrong technique! Often we think we know what the problem is when in fact all we know is the situation in which the problem occurs. So, we have to determine the problem or possibly identify a range of potential problems. Next, we must pick THE problem or the most critical.

Picking the right technique

Having done this there might be a range of possible solutions out of which we must pick one to work with right now. Do you see a pattern emerging here? I have briefly outlined four stages which have the format diverge/converge/diverge/converge.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the ways of classifying creative thinking techniques is as divergent or convergent. Other classifications can be group/solo working, exploring, reframing etc.

Anyway, if you use a technique incorrectly in the wrong phase it is likely not to work very well (or at all).

Let’s return to Brainstorming. This is a divergent technique as it is intended to generate a number of ideas or solutions. It will therefore not work when you are trying to converge i.e. focus on one specific issue.

So when you are summoned to a meeting room to generate solutions to a problem you will generate something but it is likely that you will not have identified what the problem actually is so the solutions will not fit very well.

I have a little black book with around 144 of these techniques, so if you would like to give this sort of thinking a try, please get in touch and I will find something tailored to your needs.

Please do get in touch or provide feedback by replying to this newsletter, or using any of the contact methods listed on the website derekcheshire.com.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all readers everywhere,

Derek Cheshire

Can I help you to find the difference that makes the difference?

Derek is a Fellow of the RSA, a speaker, facilitator, award-winning radio presenter and Adjunct Professor at VIT University, Chennai. He has been working in the field of Business Creativity and Innovation since 2002.

Newsletter – How to turn creativity into shareholder value

Dear Reader,

The last month seems to have passed very quickly and Summer seems to be fading into the past. On the plus side, there are fewer distractions so what have you been up to?

I tinkered with the soft skills training that I mentioned last month and have seen an improvement. So if you know of anybody that is looking for soft skills training such as Presentation Skills, Attention Management, Assertiveness etc with a creative twist and lots of fun then please point them in my direction. Oh, and please don’t forget the Creativity and Innovation stuff that I do too.


#justdaydreaming

I have just returned from the Inspire 2018, the Professional Speaking Association annual conference. My head is filled with ideas that I need to turn into real possibilities so watch this space …..

#justthinking

I don’t think that I am a recycling fanatic, I just like to make sure that as little as possible gets buried in a big hole in the ground. But why is it that we can recycle metals, plastics, cloth etc but we still throw huge amounts of food into landfill? Being organic it can be used for fertiliser, It can also be used to ‘brew’ alcohol which could be used to power vehicles.


creativity and shareholder valueSo how can we make sure that we get some value out of Creativity? After all, it is really only playing on bean bags with brightly coloured pens, isn’t it?

Well, to be completely honest I do sometimes do some of the stuff with pens, Lego and Play Doh. But really Creativity in a business context is about thinking differently.

This leads to different solutions to business issues as well as new products and services that nobody else has thought about. Competitive advantage, sustainability – call it what you like. It has to be good.

Superior performance is associated with Creativity according to Consulting company McKinsey. In particular, 67 percent of companies surveyed had above-average organic revenue growth. 70 percent had an above-average total return to shareholders.

McKinsey also identified four practices associated with Creativity and Innovation.

  1. Hardwire creativity and innovation in daily practices. As obvious as it may sound, creativity and innovation need to be business priorities.
  2. Become customer fanatics. Companies who rank highly have an almost fanatical devotion to understanding their customers and use many tools to understand their requirements.
  3. Feed the need for speed. Speed may be the defining attribute of modern businesses and companies at the top of their game are quicker at translating ideas and insights into action.
  4. Adapt or die. The top companies showed an ability to adapt, some actually expanding under adverse circumstances.

I can hear people saying ‘its easy for you to say’. Well, I have helped companies embrace and make use of Creativity in a variety of situations. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Please do get in touch or provide feedback by replying to this newsletter, or using any of the contact methods listed on the website derekcheshire.com.

Happy reading,

Derek Cheshire

Can I help you to find the difference that makes the difference?

Derek is a Fellow of the RSA, a speaker, facilitator, award-winning radio presenter and Adjunct Professor at VIT University, Chennai. He has been working in the field of Business Creativity and Innovation since 2002.

Top tips for a great business card

great business cardRecently I was asked to say why business cards are important and how to create a great business card. In a recent post, you can read about the pitfalls you should avoid Top 5 business card mistakes. Here I will provide a list of 10 top tips to ensure that your business card looks the part and works for you.

Make it memorable. Flash your card to someone for 5 seconds or so. Can they recall something memorable about the card, such as colour, logo, text etc?

Make your cards a standard size. Yes, you can create a non-standard size or shape. It will be both expensive to produce and may not fit into a cardholder or pocket. You can ignore this advice but you need to know what you are doing.

Use good quality card. If you use thin card or paper then you will not impress the people that you give it to. The card will not look good (if at all) for very long.

Design using CMYK. This is a tip for those designing their own cards. Please do not be tempted by all of the different colours that your design software might produce. You might notice that when you look at a design on your screen and print it out you see slightly different colours. This is because on the screen we see an image made out of Red, Green and Blue (RGB). When you print you see an image produced using 4 or 6 colours. Printers usually print using (up to) 4 colour printing (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). Designers will also use Pantone colours. You can convert between all of these systems but remember printers will use CMYK, the 4 primary colours for pigments. So if someone else does your design, ask for a sample that uses CMYK.

Allow room for bleeding. You should ensure that images other than a logo or photograph extend over the whole face of the card. To ensure that there is no unwanted white border, make sure that the image (or solid colour) extends into the bleed area (usually around 3mm). This allows for any  inaccuracy in trimming. You should also be aware of the protected area within the card boundary so that none of your text is cut off!

Allow some white space. Having said that we want a nice memorable image or log which covers the card, you should ensure that there is some white space somewhere. Many people like to add a note or to after meeting you. Place this on the back of the card if you like.

Employ a designer. Yes you can do this yourself (I have) but it might take many years and several iterations. Find an expert and you will save time.

Images must be of good quality. You should ensure that all images are greater than 300 dpi or else they will look grainy when printed onto your nice new cards. Please also check that you use either royalty-free graphics or that you have the required license.

Proofread everything. I know that you will check but get someone else to do it too. Once the print button is pressed you will have to pay to rectify any mistakes.

Make sure that your shiny new card is congruent with your business. Are you one nice consistent brand, do you believe in what your card says or shows?

Take care of the above and you will stand a good chance of creating a great business card. The image shown at the top of this post is a great example. It also has the advantage that being a stand-up design, people will naturally play with it and hence notice more of the writing on it.

 

 

Top 5 business card mistakes

business card mistakesI was asked to provide some guidance on how to create a memorable business card and also to highlight my top do’s and don’ts. So here are my own ideas for the top 5 business card mistakes.

Many designers will give you a long list of design principles. Before you get that far you really do need to satisfy some fairly simple usability criteria.

But before we get even that far let’s take a look at what your business card should do. It must be consistent with your branding and vision and be memorable (for the right reasons). So before I reveal my list why don’t you try the following.

Take your business card and show it to a) someone you already know b) someone you have just met at a networking event (best explain this bit first) and then hide the face that you showed to them and ask what they remember about it. Don’t show the card for more than 5 seconds. My guess is that the person you showed the card too will most likely remember nothing at all.

Here my top 5 list of the mistakes people make that you should avoid:

Make it memorable for the wrong reasons. Just take a look at the picture at the start of this post. It is a rubber business card. Novel, yes but completely impractical. If you need two hands to stretch it how do you call the number?

Use poor quality paper or card. Thin stationery is excellent for folding in half or tearing to put underneath the leg of a wobbly table. You will not impress the receiver with the poor quality and the card will get dog-eared very quickly. You should not be tempted to print cards onto materials such as plastic. They are novel but the receiver will probably leave it in the glove compartment as they make excellent ice scrapers or implements for breaking and entering!

Make it too big for a cardholder or pocket. If someone gave you a card that was too big, what would you do with it? Enough said.

Missing contact details. I have seen cards with no contact details at all. Make sure that you have at the very least your name, email address, telephone number and website details. You can also add social media details if you wish. Please do not waste valuable real estate on printing QX codes. Most people will not scan them. Use the space wisely.

Says who you are, not what you do. Your card says ‘Fred Smith, CEO’. So what? If you are an accountant, say so either by keeping it simple or saying you help people to pay less tax. For a larger company, then at least say what your company does.

This may sound a little negative but please keep an eye out for my blog article on the top things that you should do to create a great business card for yourself.

 

Newsletter – Do we still need designers?

Dear Reader,

Slowly but surely things at HQ are getting back to normal although the UK’s weather (we Brits love to talk about it) has resulted in a little less doing and a little more thinking! This will be the last newsletter for the summer as I skip August when most people take a holiday.

The series of short videos which I am gathering together under the title ‘Rough Cut Creativity’ are being added to but are not yet published. If you have not had a peek yet then you can find them via YouTube by clicking here.


#justdaydreaming

What is the purpose of a door? Many see it as a negative object and talk about not banging on closed doors or referring to doors that are left open or ajar. In practice, a door is a lump of wood that fills a hole. We pass from one side to the other. It would seem that a physical door has a different meaning to a door that we think about. What other metaphors might we be incorrectly applying? Some might be harmless and some not.

#justthinking

I’ve been hearing an awful lot about customer service lately but not seen much of it in practice. I’m not sure that it is a lack of action, maybe more of a lack of understanding. Many authors, speakers and trainers sell you their version of how things should be. You buy it and it is different but it doesn’t really work. This is just best practice (probably taken out of context) and if everyone did the same nobody stands out which is surely the point of good customer service. So if you are going to embark on doing something different then please make sure that someone understands what you are doing and why. In fact, keep on asking ‘Why’ and you will soon get to the bottom of things.


‘Now, back to the point, designers …

Do we still need them? Of course we do, so why am I asking the question?

I have written from time to time about the usefulness of something that is known as ‘Design Thinking’ when related to Innovation. In a (very small) nutshell, this means to start with we think in a broad fashion, without judgment and possibly a little ‘off the wall’.

In order to make the results useful, I proposed that we use a set of questions that should be asked of ourselves, customers and other stakeholders so that we get the maximum amount of information to work with. The more questions we ask, and the more people involved, the richer the knowledge that we acquire.

Somebody either read my article and didn’t fully understand it, or more likely, saw the title and thought that I was suggesting we disband the brotherhood of designers. His comment was ‘surely we just leave it to designers?’ The answer has to be no since all designers are not the same. And even if we are talking about a new logo, we all want design input.

Even companies that we think of as designers are staffed by actual designers (graphic, product, industrial etc) and lots of other people who ask questions and gather information. No matter what we do in our day to day jobs, we are all designers in some way.

So ‘design’ and ‘design thinking’ are actually processes that we can use to help make our products and services better and more appealing to customers. In turn, this helps to improve the profitability of our businesses. Designers are really specialists in functionality, aesthetics, usability etc that help us to achieve our design aims.

What the gentleman who commented on my article might have meant to say is that it is often a false economy not to spend money on design and try to do it yourself. Whatever you do, ask lots of questions along the way. And if you want to know how Design Thinking could help your Innovation efforts then please get in touch.

Please do get in touch or provide feedback by replying to this newsletter, or using any of the contact methods listed on the website derekcheshire.com.

Happy reading,

Derek Cheshire

Can I help you to find the difference that makes the difference?

Derek is a Fellow of the RSA, a speaker, facilitator, award-winning radio presenter and Adjunct Professor at VIT University, Chennai. He has been working in the field of Business Creativity and Innovation since 2002.

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