Change the way you think and do, and you can change what you say

 The NE Expo at Newcastle Falcons rugby ground on 7 November 2018

The NE Expo at Newcastle Falcons rugby ground on 7 November 2018

Or, how to be more creative and innovative at work, and how this can impact positively on your communications.

Or, to put it another way. If you want to improve and grow your business, don’t be afraid of change, or being different.

I hosted a seminar at the North East Expo in Newcastle today, and talked through some practical suggestions that people could take on board to be more creative and innovative at work.

As a consultant I work with people, businesses and organisations and help them to think differently, with a view to improving their communications and marketing, but also to get them to be more creative in their business.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the seminar today:

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Be different

Be like Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan who had an unusual method of preventing Luis Suarez scoring from a free kick. Difference often leads to success.

Change things

As the father of creative thinking, Edward de Bono, said: “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way”. But change doesn’t have to be big to make a difference. Look for the small and incremental changes to build momentum.

Implement an ideas culture at work

Encourage any ideas or suggestions. Change won’t happen overnight, but a culture change where you encourage and welcome suggestions will lead to more and better ideas. But don’t just look for improvements when there’s a problem. Look for alternatives and new ideas even when there’s no need. Your competitors won’t be sitting back when things are going well, and neither should you.

Ask the right question

If you’ve got a problem or challenge at work and can’t find a solution, no matter how hard you try, find an alternative way of describing the issue. Ask the right question. Reframe the issue and ask yourself what the underlying problem is, the factors and the causes. Don’t make assumptions or try and find solutions too quickly. Think about your outcome, not the new product or what you want to do.

There’s a great example of this from 1954, when the first commercial TV network was launched in the UK, ITV. It was regionalized, so production companies were asking: “How do we get the broadcasting rights to the wealthiest geographical areas?” because they figured that the ad revenue would be higher there.

However British businessman and media exec Sidney Bernstein focused on areas where people spent the most time watching tv. So he asked the question: “How do I get the broadcasting rights where people watch TV the most?”. And where was that? The wettest parts of the UK, namely Manchester and the North West. Granada TV subsequently became one of the most successful tv production companies in history. All because Sidney Bernstein asked a different question.

What-if?

If you’re really wanting to be creative, it’s a good idea to consider the wild ideas and suspend your critical judgement on those that you may usually dismiss as bonkers. The crazy ideas have value in them somewhere, it’s about finding what that value is.

A good way to come up with ideas that you wouldn’t normally think about is to exaggerate an element of your business or service, for example weights, frequencies, numbers, speed, volume, temperature. So for example you can see how the statement “what if we invented a phone with hundreds of buttons?” could lead to the development of the smartphone with all it’s apps.

If you focus on the difference and focus on the positive in your ideas, and think about how you could do something, not why you can’t do it, you may find moments of genius.

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Connect the unconnected

Creativity is the practice of combining existing elements to create something new. This can be materials, products, processes, teams, companies, data or people.

So if you bring in outsiders to your project or problem, you bring in new experiences and new ways of looking at your work.

You can also bring in new data that you wouldn’t normally look at, and combine it with information about your business, such as the wide range of Open Data available.

If your problem isn’t defined, using the random word technique can be a good way of generating ideas.

To connect the unconnected, bring in different inspirations, data or people so you can think differently about your business and come up new ideas.

Have a hack

I’ve blogged about hacks before, and I love them. This is a great way to bring in outsiders and have a unique moment in time, to experiment and collaborate, to tackle a business challenge. You can read more about hacks on this website here.

Be creative, innovative and different and your messaging and communications will be too

If you implement a more creative culture, are innovative, and different, it follows that your communications will more likely be creative, innovative and different.

So if you’re thinking differently, and doing things differently, then you can be engaging with your customers differently too. Your messaging will be much easier to write. You will stand out more.

Like Doncaster Council, who have a brilliant Chief Exec in Jo Miller who embraces difference. In 2017 she agreed to run the Twitter Gritter World Cup, where the public suggested and voted on names for two of their gritter trucks. The winners were David Plowie and Gritsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney.

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This was hugely successful, with coverage both on social media and in print and on television, resulting in significantly increased engagement with people across Doncaster.

Being different enabled them to tell a really positive story and led to success, and is now an example that has inspired similar campaigns across the public sector.

Change the way you think and do, and you can change what you say