News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 29, 2012

BUSINESS CENTS: Creativity — think outside the box

Heather Strohm
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I think we are all guilty with staying in our little comfort zone. But as a business owner, manager, leader or entrepreneur it is imperative to step outside of those bounds and take an objective look at your business. So often we continue to operate things as we have always done. “Chance favors only the prepared mind,” said Louis Pasteur. Creativity should be fostered daily.

The question is how can you reach your inner creativity and foster it daily?

Why is creativity important? Creativity is vital for companies and leaders, so that when opportunities arise, your mind is eager and ready for them. Individual creativity is derived for a variety of unusual combinations. Most often the best solution for a problem or new challenge is not one that has been used historically or something that anyone would think of. It is going to be something unusual. “Remote associations” are related ideas that appear to be unrelated at first glance. But they are the actual essence of creative thinking.

Plant, water and grow your creativeness:

1. Mix up your routine: One place to begin is by engaging a diverse workplace. This will permit you to surround yourself with new and different experiences. But also think about your daily routine. People are creatures of habit. So also adjust where you eat for lunch, how you get to work, what you read and where you hang out at. All these will bring new people into your life and will also increase your experiences.

2. How big is your fishing net? Again, we are creatures of habit as I just indicated. When you have a project or idea you would like to discuss, we often find ourselves discussing it with the same group of people. Well, why not ask others for their feedback and input. Recently I was on a conference call and facing a difficult task strategically. Instead of reaching out to my colleagues internally I reached out to my entire network. The result was outstanding, as they provided me some valuable historical insight into operations as well as suggestions for engaging the program at a significantly different level!

3. Rules schmules! Let go of some of the rules. Teach your mind to be more open. Practice makes perfect. Try letting your mind wonder, you know, day dreaming! Be silly or funny if you want, it does lighten the mood. Remember, it doesn’t matter how crazy the idea is — it might be just the one that will work! Relaxing your standards will fuel creativity and open up your mind.

4. The observation deck! Always keep a notebook nearby to jot down things. Interesting books, articles, thoughts or images. Become a people watcher, idea watcher and avid reader. Even if they don’t apply now, they might later. Regardless though, it has increased your scope of operations and will only positively impact you as an individual as well as a business leader.

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.