Dollars and Sense: Strive to spark creativity or innovation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The need for innovation and creativity in today&8217;s constantly evolving business world is quite apparent to most of us.

Leading organizations expend lots of time, money and energy chasing innovation. As a leader, your job is to seek out and spark creativity any way you can.

So how do leaders foster and encourage creative thinking? Consider asking your staff to discuss, debate and answer some of these &8220;unusual&8221; questions.

uWhat business processes and practices cause us to think, &8220;This is stupid, why do we do this?&8221;

uWhat are our top three customer complaints and how do we eliminate them?

-If the CEO of our company required us to write a report explaining how our department contributes to the company&8217;s success, what would we write?

-If I were a potential customer of our company, would I buy our products and/or services? Why?

-If the company received a substantial windfall of capital, what arguments could we make that would convince our senior executives to invest some of this new capital in our department?

-If someone wanted to make a movie about our department, who would star in the movie and what would the storyline be about?

-How would our competition rate us on a 1-10 scale? From their perspective, what are our strengths and weaknesses?

-If we could change any of our current business processes and practices, which would we change and why?

-If you could be the department manager for a day, what changes would you implement and why?

By asking people to think about things differently than they normally do, we encourage them to consider new possibilities and opportunities that might otherwise never see the light of day.

As a leader, your job is to provide the forum for such discussions and to encourage and support the free flow of ideas.

Create your own list of &8220;unusual&8221; questions and present them to your staff for discussion. It is virtually guaranteed to create positive energy, enthusiasm and great ideas for improving your organization