By now we all know that creativity and innovation go hand in hand. Put simply, creativity ultimately leads to innovation, and innovation creates value. The question lies in how a business can use these two factors to achieve and implement feasible solutions. Whether creating products, launching services or positioning themselves to reach their customers, the majority of the world’s most innovative organizations have had to wrestle with creativity within innovation.
The main aim is to try and separate creativity from value judgement. To do this it is important that you get all your ideas out and avoid assessing them or working out the practicalities until afterwards. Start with a problem that needs solving, and create an environment that is purely about suggesting creative solutions. There are lots of good creative exercises you can use to consider problems from a different angle.
Two different methods you might apply in this space are the SCAMPER method and the Thinking Hats method. SCAMPER refers to a series of thought or provocations which help you to innovate on an existing product, service, or situation by looking through different lenses.
There are seven lenses in the SCAMPER method: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify – which can also be Magnify or Minify – Put to another use, Eliminate and Rearrange. To implement this method in your creative process, simply go through the list and ask questions regarding each of the seven elements. Apply these questions to your values, benefits, services, touch points, product attributes, pricing, markets… essentially, any aspect of your business model you might be able to think of. Is there a different customer group that could be substituted for your current market? Are there features you could eliminate to create a simplified version of your product? Look at the answers that you produce and assess any that stand out as viable solutions.
The second method is the Six Thinking Hats technique. This technique encourages you to look at the problem in six diverse ways. It allows you to look beyond your instinctive positions so that you can explore various perspectives in a clear, conflict-free way. It can be used by individuals or groups to escape habitual ways of thinking, try out different approaches, and then think laterally and constructively about how to move forward. The six perspectives are:
- The Green ‘Creative’ Hat – encourage freeform thought that explores a broad range of different options and ways forward.
- The Red ‘Heart’ Hat – focus on your feelings and instincts; how does the idea make you feel, without analysing it logically?
- The Yellow ‘Optimists’ Hat – what are the positive benefits and added value that could come from your ideas?
- The Black ‘Judges’ Hat – what are the risks associated with your ideas? Be critical and share your concerns.
- The White ‘Factual’ Hat – what insights and data have you gathered to help you analyse your ideas? What do you still need to find out?
- The Blue ‘Conductors’ Hat – manage your discussion with an agenda, summarise your points, and focus on the conclusions that will influence your decision-making.
By the time this is done you will have a rich collection of insights that will help you decide your next steps without having to argue your case or make rash decisions.
Episode 7 of our Sussex Pioneers show, titled “Curiouser and Curiouser” explores in depth how you can successfully implement creative processes in your business. Here is a quick summary of what the episode highlights when it comes to innovation and creativity:
- Bring your customers to the table
- Build a culture that rewards innovative ideas and accepts failure
- Invite new perspective into the business
- Use data and capture feedback
- Use the SCAMPER tool, highlighted above