Tips for creativity. Entrepreneurs explore creative business ideas.
Innovative and entrepreneurial activity can be fun. After all, the activity often involves finding ideas to solve not only the problems of others but your own problems.
Problem Solving Process:
There are two stages in the ideas-exploration process, namely problem finding and problem solving:
Stage #1: Problem Finding
This stage involves:
- Gathering- facts, observations, feelings, impressions
- Deciding if a real problem- finding supporting facts
Stage #2: Problem Solving
This stage involves:
- Alternatives-regarding everything; being creative
- Evaluation-criteria for evaluating each option; being critical
One way to generate a lot of ideas is to work in a group, sometimes called an Entrepreneurs Club. For each idea one can go on to ask the following questions:
- What is the problem being addressed?
- Is this a real problem?
A club I participated in generated the following ideas.
Idea #1: The Dead Flower Shop
Attiho was a member of this club. At the time he wasn’t as yet sure how, but he planned to conquer the business world. He and one of his friends, in the brainstorming session, suggested a dead flower shop as a venture idea: as a practical joke, you send someone, such as your boss who is in the hospital, a dead flower. The rest of the club broke into laughter, including the group leader. But the leader, while admitting that it was off the wall, was willing to see if there was anything in the idea.
Idea #2: Flavored Vinegars
Mark, also a member of the club had an idea triggered when his sister dragged him into a craft store. The store had a huge display of inexpensive vinegar bottles made of green glass. Mark said that if he could come up with some good recipes, he could make some flavored vinegars and sell them in attractive bottles. He’d seal the corks in wax and use ribbon to attach a label with a recipe on the flipside.
Idea #3: Needlework for Newborns
Antonella had an idea. Her group member, Mark works with wood and she does cross-stitching. Her scheme was to put custom designed needlework in country-style frames and sell them as gifts for newborns. Group discussion even suggested improvements such as using things that have been recycled.
Idea #4: Rubric-Cube Billboard
Fernando had an idea: replace billboards with a sign composed of thousands of dice-sized plastic cubes that twist and twirl into a new and different colored ad every 30 seconds; it would make ads inexpensive to set up and run; and It could also be a neighborhood communications device. The group was impressed.
These are just a few ideas. In searching for a venture to pursue, the more ideas you have, the more options you have. You should always be curious. You should always be looking, changing your routines, making lists, daydreaming, trying new things, and so on. Sure you need to evaluate ideas but the best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
Mental Blocks to Creative Thinking:
You may wonder why some people come up with many ideas and others don’t. It usually relates to two things:
- mental blocks
If you experience a mental block, and are motivated, you simply seek a strategy to overcome it. Following are several typical mental blocks with a suggested strategy:
- Thinking logically? Simply think softly.
- Feel you aren’t following the rules? Challenge the rules.
- To err is wrong? One benefit of failure is that you learn what doesn’t work and it gives you the opportunity to try a new idea.
- I’m not creative? Force yourself to try new things.
- That’s not my area? Force yourself to see the big picture.
Using the problem posed by the Rubric-Cube Billboard – traditional billboards too expensive and too inflexible- the group could start to judge (Roger von Oech’s term for the first stage in the problem solving process) by deciding what criteria (e.g. assess risks, barriers) could be used to decide if the Pubic-Cube Billboard idea is any good. Edward de Bono called it yellow hat – positive reaction- and black hat – negative reaction- thinking.
The last stage involves action. Roger von Oech’s terms it the warrior stage of problem solving. To Edward de Bono it is blue hat thinking: the blue hat thinker is like the conductor of the orchestra, calling for the use of the other hats: facts and figures (white), emotions and feelings (red), counter arguments (black), concrete proposals and calls to action (yellow) ,and searches for alternative ideas (green).
You don’t feel creative? Perhaps you need to look outside the box. The following exercises might help (answers below):
- VII- change this to eight by adding a single line
- IX- change this to six by adding only a single line
- FIVE- change into four
Answers to Exercises:
- Vertical line to right of VII
- ‘S’ in front of IX or Add 6 to IX; 1X6 = 6
- Remove ‘F’ and ‘E’, leaving IV