The last two years have been particularly challenging for Central Oregon’s small business owners. The recession hit our local economy hard; we were not prepared for the drastic decrease in the value of our properties, the financial fiascos in the banking world, the lack of capital for growth and the cash flow crisis that comes with such a huge decline in business.
Businesses have been able to survive by slashing their budgets and working harder for less. Breaking even is the new up!
Owners tell me now that they manage both their personal and business finances differently, lean and efficient. It’s like our version of the great depression and we’ve learned the hard way that if success comes easy, it can fall even easier.
And now it seems there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Our economy will probably never be like ‘back in the day’ when business just walked in the door. But at least economic indicators are on the positive side, finally.
During the course of the crisis we were in a survivor mode but business people who were insightful were also planning for the future and being as innovative as possible even with limited financial resources. If you’ve been in total survivor mode and you need to get inspired, this might help.
I recently received some ideas on innovation from Jatin Desai, an international strategist and CEO and Founder of The DeSai Group. His ideas are not necessarily new but his suggestions are encouraging. He reminds us that ideas are revealed when one applies a process of being creative. Creativity in one’s job is shaped by an individual’s engagement and commitment to one’s work, which is directly influenced by one’s personal values and the company’s organizational values.
He concluded that the single biggest deterrent, and at the same time the single biggest enabler of organizational innovation, is the propensity for risk-taking. Creativity is the principle process leading to ideas, while risk-taking is the process designed to apply ideas that generate results.
Great innovation leaders figured out long ago that innovation arises from one’s (or the team’s) deep passion for something much bigger than themselves. These leaders learned how to create “drive” as a positive force for themselves as well as for their teams.
Here are some of Desai’s thoughts on getting inspired and being innovative.
1. Think when you are not thinking. For example, try going on a run or a walk, cooking at home, cleaning the house, doing yard work, or asking yourself questions to stimulate curiosity and creativity.
2. Listen to Classical music. Recent studies reveal a molecular basis for the “Mozart Effect,” but not other music. Mozart can relieve stress, improve communication and increase efficiency. Creativity scores soar when listening to Mozart.
3. Read Periodicals you would not typically read. For example, read a scientific magazine if you are more interested in business, or choose books outside your typical genre to help generate Diverse Thinking, which has proven to be a critical competency in the creative process.
4. Attend a conference or a meeting outside your field. This helps connect to other “dots” in your life. Being away from your daily routine is a sure bet to stimulate ideas for creative solutions to your existing challenge.
5. Surround yourself with creative thinkers. Many organizations do not hire creative people, instead hiring for skill and “fit for task.” Look outside your area and normal routine and find some creative thinkers who are comfortable looking at things through a different lens, are not afraid to challenge assumptions or who naturally love to explore “newness” in everything.
6. Immerse yourself in a real problem. Ask questions and investigate possible outcomes. Try the State/Restate technique. Individually or in a small team, write the current challenge in an open ended question format. Then restate the question eight different ways. It’s been shown 100 percent of participants experience a much greater clarity of the original “problem statement” than before. Once the problem is clear and concise, then dive in to solutions, first looking at all ideas and then begin narrowing them down.
7. Keep an idea journal. An idea journal is accomplished when we take the time to commit our ideas to paper or electronic note pad. Throughout the course of any given day countless ideas come and go. Write or record them even though many of them may appear unrealistic at the time.
8. Take a course to learn a new language or some other skill outside your expertise. This builds confidence and can provide an edge over others in the global multicultural working environment.
9. Be curious and experiment. In today’s no-nonsense business environment those who stand out will rise to the top faster. Those who demonstrate curiosity, tenacity and willingness to experiment will become visible.
10. Articulate your idea and seek feedback. Real innovative ideas are those that solve an unmet need in the market. It is not about having a new idea, but about getting it out there. Testing an idea with your co-worker is one thing, but testing it with your customers or those who are not current customers yields the best insights on the applicability, giving you more precise feedback about the need for and impact of your idea.
11. Create a Greenhouse for your ideas. The four primary negative forces designed to kill your ideas immediately are time, money, people around you and yourself. For each, identify how to reduce the negative influence on the fresh ideas that desperately need PHA