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Top Tips from DWF

Top tips for creativity in professional services

4th June 2019, 8:00 am

One of the many ways to drive innovation in an organisation is through a creative culture.

Creativity (to us) is defined as nothing more than the ability to think of a new idea that you are able to do something useful with. Easy to say but often difficult to do, so here are our 10 top tips to help.

Jonathan Patterson, Managing Director at DWF and his colleague Jason Dunning, Senior Manager at DWF share their experiences and top tips in the latest SME Club article…

1. Have a go

Distance yourself from any pre-conceived thoughts and throw yourself into the creative process wholeheartedly. Don’t let that voice in your head talk you out of thinking about a problem because you are too busy, will look silly or don’t think you are ‘a creative’. If you start out thinking something won’t work then you will usually be right!

2. Harness enthusiasm

Energy is critical in creativity. High energy levels lead to enthusiasm, enthusiasm leads to participation, participation leads to diversity of thought and diversity of thought leads to new ideas. When developing a new idea it is best to start with people who share your enthusiasm and only engage the stereotypical “arms-folded nay-sayer” when you have gained some momentum with fellow enthusiasts.

3. Suspend Judgement

We sometimes lack the confidence to share new ideas because of a fear of judgement. Whether we like it or not most human beings psychologically filter the ideas they share for fear of them being rejected. Creating a safe environment early on in a creative process where ‘no idea is a bad idea’ is important if you want ideas to flow.

4. Question convention

Just because it has always been done a particular way, doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. The world around us is moving quickly and whether it is technology, customer behaviour, business models or competition, things are changing at a faster rate than ever before so the future will most likely look nothing like the past. In that context, it is important to think about new ideas with an approach that says ‘we can do that if…..’ rather than ‘we can’t do that because….’

5. Fail fast & learn

Accepting that something hasn’t worked the way you wanted it to, can be difficult for the professional psyche to deal with. But having the ability to fail with an idea and quickly move on is an essential part of the creative process. Listen with an open mind if your customer tells you your idea doesn’t work, or could be improved. Asking for feedback and taking on board the lessons you learn from sharing an idea is a critical part of the development process.

6. View things through the eyes of your customer

The ability to empathise with the position of a user or customer is a core ingredient of creativity. How do they feel about a problem? How does it impact them? What would they want as an outcome? When coming up with any business idea it should work back from a customer need in some way. It could be the most creative idea in the world, but if your customer doesn’t want or need it then it isn’t much use.

7. Disrupt to progress

One of our core values at DWF and something that drives our approach to creativity. We categorise ideas into two distinct types of innovation; engine 1 and engine 2. Engine 1 typically focusses on ideas where sustainable improvements can made to an existing process or service whilst engine 2 ideas looks for ways to invent something completely new to disrupt an existing service or apply creativity to come up with more radical ideas.

8. Take time to think

Creative thinking takes time. Being able to think about the problem without jumping straight to a solution straightaway is an important dimension of the creative process. If you rush into solving the problem without giving it real thought then the tendency will be to default to something that you have done or seen before.

9. Train your right brain

In professional service roles there is a tendency to utilise left brain thinking which drives logic, reason and analysis more than right brain thinking which encourages empathy, creativity and emotion. The right brain is thought to be where some of our more radical and different thoughts are developed so it is important to keep it honed. Think of it like a pair of muscles that need to be used in tandem or one will end up weaker than the other.

10. Make it fun

Yes! Embracing creativity should be FUN. Incorporating enjoyment and playfulness reinforces the creative cycle further, often paving the way for more new and different ideas to flow.

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