the Importance of
creativity as a growth hack
Creativity is innate. There is no such thing as a creative person and a non-creative one. We all have some level of natural creativity. Some of us just need a bit of help unleashing it.
That’s right. Creative people don’t just show up out of nowhere ready to wow us with their ideas. Nope. They are trained to use their imaginations in as many ways as possible without stifling their creative thoughts.
Sounds pretty cool, huh?
written by: Andrea hubbert
reading time: 10 minutes
During a recent #GoalChat Twitter chat, host Debra Eckerling (@TheDEBMethod) asked us how we define creativity. Here’s my response:
A3: Thinking about things in new ways and then implementing/taking action. Small actions, in new ways, can lead to big changes. #GoalChat— Andrea Hubbert (@andreasaidit) July 13, 2020
I know that sounds a bit basic, perhaps anticlimactic, but let me explain.
Whether developing new offerings, designing a website or trying to figure out how to separate yourself from the pack… you need to be creative. And the good news is that creativity can be learned... even if you think you're the one person without a single creative bone in your body.
Hopefully as you continue reading you'll learn of a new way to add more creativity within your business. Maybe you'll even hit on your own million-dollar idea! (Just remember me when you do. I’m Andy!)
creativity hack no. 1
new product ideas
The most obvious place to be more creative is in product development. Our goal is to make something new that doesn't exist in the world already. We want it to be original but also something our audience can use. To achieve this balance, leveraging creativity will be essential.
Consider the Sony Walkman. Stick with me a minute. I know… that was a million years ago. (No offense taken, by the way, since I actually remember them hitting the market.)
We take for granted that you can carry a music player in your pocket. It's a given that we can take our music with us wherever we go. But this wasn't always so.
Sony developed its Walkman during the dark ages of analog music. Prior to then, people listened to tapes and records on giant component stereos and bulky, cumbersome boom boxes.
One day, Sony founder Masaru Ibuka had a creative brainstorm that would change the way people across the world would enjoy music. He asked his engineers to develop a pocket-sized music player that he could take with him on his long airplane trips. Voila! A revolutionary new product was born.
The Walkman was actually an improvement made to Sony's handheld tape recorders. It seemed counter intuitive to produce a tape recorder that didn't record until you realized that its portability was a game changer. (And then Apple came along.)
Creativity can be used not just to create innovative new products, but to make changes to our products that make them more useful or convenient for our audience.
- The goal is to make something that doesn't already exist, but useful to our audience.
- Creativity is essential for finding a unique idea.
- Creativity can be used to make changes to existing products.
creativity hack no. 2
product development process
Regardless of the products we develop, we can always add some inspiration to our process to help generate new ideas. Does anyone else think that a subscription service for birthday cakes filled with our favorite liqueur delivered to our homes once per month is a good idea? No? Just me? Ok.
My point is that by changing the way products are made, we can create better products and increase product development efficiency. Apple's product development approach is a good example. It's the exact opposite to what most companies do.
Instead of pumping out products of all shapes and sizes for the market to devour, Apple releases one product at a time. By putting all of its energy and resources into that one product, it’s able to focus on quality rather than quantity.
Apple understands the importance of creativity.
While computer makers in the early days started by considering what their technology could do and then making products accordingly, Apple started with its customer. It considered its customers' needs and desires first, and then tried to develop the technology that would deliver the wanted experience.
Today, this is how most companies operate; however, Apple was the one that turned the way we develop products inside-out through its inspired approach.
- Add some inspiration to your development process to generate new ideas.
- Companies like Apple focus on one product at a time and put everything into it.
- They develop their technology according to what the customer needs.
creativity hack no. 3
thinking outside the box
Thinking outside the box means to reject common assumptions and go beyond the norm. It's important because we can only come up with truly original ideas that set us apart from our competitors if we think this way.
When I take on new client projects, one of the first questions I ask are what sacred cows I should know about. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend something that goes against whatever’s been established. It just means that I am more mindful of my client’s mindset and am better able to act in an informed manner.
Let's look at Apple again. Apple is a company that's made thinking outside the box the norm. Steve Jobs went far outside the box when he brought together two totally opposite things—computers and calligraphy—to change the way computers were made.
Jobs spent a great deal of time studying calligraphy (gasp!) and he brought this knowledge to his work with computers. He incorporated calligraphy in the Mac computer's basic design by giving it multiple fonts for use. This was one of the things that made it so popular. Today, it's a given.
- Reject common assumptions and go beyond the norm.
- We can only come up with truly original ideas if we think this way.
- Apple brought together two totally opposite things to create something new.
creativity hack no. 4
If we're creating an alliance with other organizations or a joint venture, who do we seek out? For most of us, it’s probably those that are like us. With a bit of creativity, however, we can build an unusual but strong alliance — with lots of different players.
This happens at a local level when two groups team up to cross-market. An example would be a travel agency hooking up with a luggage store. When people book their vacations, they often realize their luggage is old or inadequate. This sends them to the luggage store to buy something new. A travel agency can offer deals at a local luggage store, and vice versa.
Another example is a real estate brokerage and a local pizza shop. What do these two things have to do with each other? Not much on the outset. But pizza is the traditional food for people who haven't unpacked yet. It's also nice to get a recommendation for a good pizza shop when you're new to the neighborhood.
Here's an interesting example from Japan – Beer vending machines that offer free Wi-Fi. First of all, yes, there are beer vending machines in Japan. And people often crack open their newly purchased beverage to have a sip at the point of purchase. Since Japan is a nation of smartphone junkies, it only makes sense that as long as someone is standing around the vending machine, they'd love a little internet access.
- Apply creativity to find a business different to ours and create something unusual.
- On a local level, two businesses might team up to cross-market.
- Offer something that complements our business in an interesting way.
creativity hack no. 5
fostering a creative culture
We can use creativity individually for great results, but we can also apply the same techniques and exercises to groups of people by creating a corporate culture that understands the importance of creativity and is fueled by it. We do this by challenging and encouraging employees to try out new ideas.
This is exactly how GM recovered from its bailout and restructuring.
The company had always focused on the bottom line – building and selling a large quantity of cars to maximize profits. But with the restructuring, it ditched its strict production process and standard operating procedures and created an entirely new business culture that focused on nurturing the creativity of its individual employees.
Removing the barriers to creativity allowed the company to innovate and focus on quality rather than quantity.
When people worked in factories or offices, they were cogs in a big machine. They had a job to do and their performance at work depended on how they did that job. Today, we live in the information age, which is run by knowledge. Ideas are the most valuable resource. Learning how to apply creativity to our business is essential to its success. GM needed to change.
- Creativity can be used to foster a culture fueled by creativity in a larger group.
- Challenge and encourage employees, freelancers and collaboration partners to try new ideas.
- Remove barriers to creativity to allow for innovation and improved focus on quality.
If you need a little bit of help to think creatively, you're going to love what I have for you. Click the link below for a PDF with 18 different prompts to get the juices flowing!
Here's a sneak peek of one of them. It's called Skim the Classifieds:
Go to the classifieds (websites work as well) and look at ads. Any kind of ad will do:
- Look at job ads and imagine what it would be like to work this job?
- Look at the personals. Who are the people posting these ads and what are they looking for? What would happen if you responded to an ad?
- Check out the travel deals and imagine if you were to travel to the destinations listed there. What would you pack?
- You can even look at items for sale. Imagine if you bought something from the ad. What would you do with it?
GRAB YOUR COPY OF
Our guide to enhance your
18 fun prompts to get you outside of your comfort zone and into your zone of genius!