Want to take your career to the next level? Think deep and provide answers to the following four exercises that will ignite your creativity. Remember, creativity is about making something new to solve existing or future needs.Innovation improves an existing idea or product to meet existing or future needs.
If you come up with an idea, product or service that has never existed, you are said to be creative (the way God is believed to have created the world). However, if you improve an existing idea, product or service to perform better, then you are just innovative. If you make something that looks like the existing product, you are a copycat and risk landing on the wall of shame unless you have some form of approvals to copy!
The four insights for creativity
Insight 1: Study your environment and examine what is bothering people.
What exactly is the market demanding? If your target is a global market place, what problems does the world want to solve? If you follow this link you will learn that the top 15 global challenges are (i) sustainable development and climate change, (ii) clean water, (iii) population and resources, (iv) democratization, (v) long-term perspectives, (vi) global convergence of IT, (vii) rich-poor gap, (viii) health issues, (ix) capacity to decide, (x) peace and conflict, (xi) status of women, (xii) transnational organized crime, (xiii) energy, (xiv) science and technology and (xv) global ethics.
Come to think about it, all Fortune 500 companies are involved in solving some of the above challenges in one way or the other. Despite availability of fresh water sources, Uganda’s elite class prefer to stock cartons of bottled water. That is how such a business is profitable.
Want to be rich? Create an alternative to clean water. You don’t have to. It will probably cost you more than the available alternative – boiling the water and or processing it depending on the source. However, a new solution that is far expensive than existing one is useless. That is why there won’t be any alternative to water in the foreseeable future. It is just not necessary.
In your school, home, village or country what solutions can you come up to solve existing challenges or needs? What are their needs anyway?
In Uganda like elsewhere, there is big demand for security solutions. That is why I formed a company to provide cyber security services. However, I have nothing new to create or innovate in that field. That is why I partner with those with the technology and skills to deliver the services locally. The point is, to be relevant you don’t have to create new ideas yourself. If you think your employer is using an inferior product or solution and you let them know of the better alternatives elsewhere, that is value addition to your employer’s business. The point is to make your employer more competitive with ideas that make the business more profitable.
Exercise 1: List top 5 problems you see in your community
Insight 2: Get a unique idea to solve any identified problem at the lowest cost
If you are unable to see the kind of problem/s your employer or existing business solves, then your business won’t survive for long. To gain such clarity, continuously engage your customers to ensure your products and services meet their demands.
For that reason, interact closely with your front line staff or sales people. They are the first line of contact with your customers. Ask them what are the needs of the customers? What are the customer complaints? Are there instances where customers have returned or rejected certain supplies? What were their issues? What more needs do customers wish your company could solve. Having answers to these questions will make you miles ahead when it comes to providing practical insights to your supervisor.
Remember, great businesses focus on meeting the needs of tomorrow’s customer.
Exercise 2: List top 5 ways in which the existing problems are being solved and by which company?
Exercise 3: Challenge yourself: how can you solve any of the problems better?
Exercise 4: What major problem/ challenge in your community does your current business solve?
Note that when you come up with an idea, document it. There are many investors looking forward to novel ideas. Keep in mind that your boss or employer will evaluate your idea on four parameters – financial viability, strategic fit, practicality and environmental friendly. Your new idea should be profitable (the cost of making the product should be lower than the revenue in order to give a positive return on investment and net present value. That is why your idea should be a result of market demand.
By far, products that have mass demand are always preferred). If you work for a company, your idea should be within the vision of your employer; otherwise, it won’t be taken on. Your solution should be practical. To get buy in, it should not add more problems to humanity. Ensure it has no bad impact on the environment.
Insight 3: Form a business or use your existing business to offer the solutions
Are you a full time employee? If yes, there is no need to form a business. Share your documented idea with your employer to apply it and make money.
Alternatively, form a company and start from there. It is easier to look for an investor if you have something to show on ground than just marketing an idea. People want to deal with folks who are practical.
Insight 4: Manage your business very well so that it is sustainable
It is one thing to start a business, and another to keep it running. You must get the basics right – proper company registration, company bank account, tax compliance, local council compliance, trade mark, patent or copyright registration (for your brand, creation or idea) and good governance.
That is why; if you are good at creating new stuff, find an OB or a friend good at managing your business.
That is all it takes to be creative.