Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  07 Oct 2011

CREATIVITY: Creativity in Business: DonÂ’t Stifle It, Visualise It


Recent Gauteng Business News

Creativity in business or having the ability to think creatively is a key skill in any business. Whether itÂ’s sales, customer service or management, being able to solve problems and develop new products and services is ultimately the difference between success and failure. So says Chris Harman, regional vice president of Mindjet, a leading provider of collaborative work management solutions that dramatically improves how groups of people work together. Mindjet MindManager software provides real-time collaboration powered by an interactive visual framework - an information map that enables business teams to work better together and quickly get critical tasks done.

The Challenges of Creativity in Business

The nature of creativity means that inspiration can strike seemingly at random, appearing at odds with the accountability of business environments - yet trying to structure and manage the creative output can stifle the flow of ideas.

There are also the constant demands to do more with less; in todayÂ’s dynamic and unpredictable business world, companies have to rapidly adapt to drive efficiency. Each action must have a tangible output and employees are constantly tasked with demonstrating results from every initiative.

“Add to this the information overload regularly faced in today’s world, where the amount of digital data created in 2010 was equivalent to every man, woman and child on Earth tweeting continuously for 100 years.,” says Harman. “With this level of information demanding attention, it becomes difficult to identify themes and use it to develop creatively.”

The need to channel inspiration
Attempts to capture ideas and turn them into something usable with readily available office tools can be hit and miss. Word documents and spreadsheets can be uninspiring and too detailed for executives requiring top line ideas. Another alternative, PowerPoint, is often misused, to the point where the term “death by PowerPoint” has become a commonly used phrase.

“These tools have their place in business, but ultimately dictate a linear train of thought, at odds with the free-flowing nature of creative thinking. There is a need for a new model that makes the best use of all the information available,” he explains.

‘There is no denying the benefits of creativity, but the spontaneity that is the hallmark of inspiration can conflict with business environments that look for deliverables and accountability. Creativity often suffers in such situations, which is a mistake as it can be a critical attribute to a business’ performance and directly affect the bottom line.”

Harman maintains that the problem lies in reconciling the benefits of innovation with the structure of business and making it accessible to those who would not consider themselves to have a creative role. To do so, he continues, it is important to avoid stifling the very spontaneity and inspiration that makes it such a vital tool.

Finding the Right Tools to Create Creativity in Business

When it comes to business, creativity is the ability to see connections between pieces of information and translate those connections into innovative products, services or ideas. Being able to track these connections whilst maintaining a clear process is a goal that few software programmes have been able to meet. Many people (even those that are seemingly “non-creative”) think in non-linear patterns.

For instance, when in a brainstorm, most people use a central idea or theme and then spin off from there – they tend not to write in lists. At the moment, that means writing things out by hand, and then typing up – wasting valuable time and potentially leading to missed ideas.

“Software has been developed, however, that can map out ideas and projects in a manner akin to spider diagrams used for exam revision,” says Harman. “These visualise information by allowing people to throw ideas into a map, and then easily organise them and add as required.”

Mapping a way forward
Using this kind of information mapping software in brainstorms, project planning and other creativity driving situations, means that ideas can be captured quickly and rearranged at leisure – having been added directly to the map, there is no need to write up notes and spend time deciphering handwriting.

However, it is not just in brainstorms or for capturing ideas that mapping software has its uses. The mapping process can also be used to present ideas and plans, providing that macro view senior decision makers need, whilst allowing them to focus in on key points as required. As an alternative to PowerPoint, mapping software can provide a more interactive experience, with relevant documents and links easily added to topics to add colour and additional detail as required.

By providing a clear view of the thought processes behind the inspiration, along with the freedom to capture ideas and restructure as required, mapping software can visualise information that promotes creativity whilst respecting the confines of todayÂ’s business environments.

Creativity in Business and Visualising Success

“Businesses need to innovate to stay competitive, but in reality the restrictions of business and the way we are often taught to work make it hard to think creatively in some environments. Using information visualisation software, employees are able to demonstrate their worth to the business and secure stakeholder approval of innovative schemes and product ideas,” Harman explains. “Information mapping software can help stimulate creativity in business and make the fruits of inspiration accessible to all time-pressed business professionals, ultimately helping to drive success and impact the bottom line.”

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