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4 Ways to Test Your Creativity

So my parents, being the generous people they are, decided to take the entire family to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  If you have never been, I highly recommend it if you want to feel like a child again.

My Mother and Father in front of Cinderella's Castle

While I was there, I spent a lot of time with my jaw dropped open, just blown away with all of the creative things these guys do – everything from the rides, to the entertainment, to the integration of technology and even the logistics like how they move people in and out of large events.

It got me to thinking about my industry. How would we grade ourselves on creativity? If Walt himself were a guest in your company, what would he have to say about what you do?  I know what some of you are thinking, “I don’t run a theme park!”  This may be true but innovation gets you cool new products or services that can create wealth, so now what do you say?  Here are 4 things to ask yourself if you want to give yourself the “Creativity Gut Check.”

1.  How much time do you spend in meetings trying to brainstorm and create new products or services? If you don’t have a creative process or commit time to it in meetings, then chances are you are not going to realize your potential here.
2.  How much reading/research do you do outside of your industry hoping to learn something that might be relevant to what you do?  Some of the best ideas can come from watching others.  If you are working with blinders on and not paying attention to outside influences, you could miss the next big idea.
3.  How much time do you spend listening to your customers as it relates to how you can improve your products and services?  The people who interact with us the most are a great place to go for ideas.  They understand what you do and probably have some thoughts on how you can improve.  Invest in some focus groups or some in-depth interviews, sit behind the two way mirror and listen to what they have to say.  I have yet to do that and not be surprised. Even if you can’t afford to do a focus group, (they cost around $7,000 depending on the details), send out a survey or invite some customers to a lunch and just listen.  This can be a great way to inspire your creativity and launch your brain into development mode.  If you want more information on how to do a focus group, send me a note and I will get you connected to a good group.

4. How much of your current revenue comes as a result of these activities?  How much of your 2011 sales projections will come from innovation?  The great thing about creativity is that it pays.  If you hold yourself accountable for a measurable result, you will be more disciplined in your approach.

The good news is that all of the best ideas have NOT been taken.  There are all kinds of opportunities to create the next best thing that could literally change the future of your company.  As I type this, it makes me think of a hand air dryer called the Dyson AirBlade which is a great invention.

The Dyson Airblade

An air dryer that actually works. Think about it; how long were hand dryers out there hanging on walls in restrooms and not being used because they didn’t work.  Or there is my favorite example of wheeled luggage.  That is the biggest DUHHHHHHH development ever!  You can always consider that if you are not creating new ideas to reinvent yourself your competition probably is.  What are you missing?

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