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Ten tips for becoming more creative

The author of the acclaimed Detective Marketing, Stefan Engeseth, looks at how you can inject creativity with a ready collection of tips. But be warned, itíll take guts, so: can you handle it?

Stefan Engeseth
The Swedish management consultant Stefan Engesethís book Detective Marketing has been translated and adapted for the English-language market. In its original version, the book was hailed by both marketing professionals and the general public as a landmark work in using creativity in the world of business. Named the ĎJonathan Livingston Seagullí of the business world by his colleagues, Engeseth has been lauded for his simple, yet challenging concepts.

1. Hire people who have different talents than you.
When you look at work ads you see companies that want to hire people with similar competence. As a result one has a rather homogeneous staff. A risk that can arise when people with similar competence share ideas and knowledge: nothing new is being born.
   Even you are a mix of different parts.
   Human resourcesí policies should reflect diversity for an organization, particularly today when international marketing has grown in importance. The corporate culture also should not place certain groups at a disadvantage. That is the problem we often see at organizations that, for instance, put finance at the top and marketers do not get to be on the board. The resulting imbalance often drives weak brands, which in turn mean poorer consumer acceptance, ultimately hurting business performance.

2. Install a random control in the elevator so that everyone ends up on the wrong floor. Get a head start by pressing the wrong button today.
There is a great potential in the company to come up with new ideas and to be innovative. This potential is best maintained if there is a platform for new meetings taking place. Often many novel and creative ideas can be born from them. Possibilities of new meetings lie between every floor in the building.
   When you see these new possibilities you have more fun! Changing your perspective is often what could be needed to prevent groupthink, find new inspirations and see your job and company from someone elseís point of view.

3. Exchange Filofaxes with each other.
To see the big picture and your company in general you have to see all of it. Thatís why some companies encourage job changing. Itís especially important for bosses, who often have a very different idea of what their company is like from their employees.
   Short of doing a full identity programme internally, you can borrow the eyes and ears of your colleagues. It is also a way to take control over the contacts the company has. If one person stops working for your company, another person can replace him and continue with the relationships. The organization "learns".
   People in the habit of thinking, ĎNobody can do my work,í learn that their roles can be emulated. This is especially good for people who are on the way to burnout, taking the pressure from them. Afterwards you can ask each other what the person with your Filofax thought of the third party. You gain a new dimension.

4. Bring your children to work.
Assuming, of course, that they are on their breaks!
   Each child is a genius, and we all have that genius inside us. Children can awaken the child inside you. Children see new things in new ways. For example, look how they use their body when they play. If you adopt the playing in your business meeting maybe you can move your company to a new level that your competitor never could think of.
   Playing with the know-how of your business point is important but sometimes thinking in terms of money can block you from seeing and discussing the ideas that no one else thinks of. A focus on finances led General Motors down a path of boring products in the 1990s. Since hiring Bob Lutz, itís streamlined its innovation processes and shifted the focus from money. Exciting products are on the way for GMís subsidiaries in the United States.
   In one lecture I was shocked with all the great ideas the group was coming up. Apparently, no one had ever asked them those questions and I had unlocked something.
   Simplicity is good business, and children can help you see and detect simple patterns.

5. Invite your customers to participate in projects at an early stage.
If they pay for the party, itís easier to pay with a smile if they have fun. Itís more fun to dance with someone if you hear the same music. When you mix two companies you will have so many more possibilities to make a success.
   Mergers driven by serendipity and share prices often fail because they donít look at the possibilities. They donít take time to create the same music. Itís why Daimler and Chrysler have taken so long to become proper bedfellows. Itís why BMW and Rover never worked out. And, arguably, itís also what made Enron such a juggernaut to change: the possibilities were ignoredóor, rather, they never properly did what customers expected them to. What did customers expect from these companies? Most of the time they were too involved in looking at their share price.
   By involving customers, they can get inspired to buy. You create buy-in early and you donīt have to sell your project to them through an expensive campaign later. It also becomes harder for your competitors to take your customers because they and you are a part of each other.

6. Invite someone from the street to attend your next meeting.
Being street-smart is good but it requires you to have a street mind. If you work in your office all the time you will become an expert in your workóbut you begin to lose touch, too. You need to have the not-knowing (knowl)edge. This will keep you street-smart.
   Itís why we focus so much time at JY&A Consulting to break from the jargon. If the customers on the street donīt understand what you are saying, then itís no point. And equally, itís stupid to fill up consultancy services with jargon: if your strategy has no merit, itís going to be useless whether you use fancy words or not. It also hurts the consultant in the long run. By gaining the street perspectiveóand I include getting the boss doing customer servicesóyou learn to respect simplicity.

7. Mix people in meetings, e.g. sales and marketing people.
Between two functions, you create a third virtual competence through mixing. For example, you can try to go to the wrong meeting. In www.DetectiveMarketing.com you will find a trial book with many examples on what this kind of meeting can do for you.

8. Change the setting of the meeting. Why not hold it in a kindergarten?
On your holidays, you go to new places to get new inspiration and energy. Why not adapt the same way of thinking in your worklife? If you want to sell a new pair of shoes to someone it is easier if you have tried to walk in them in the same environment as your customers. You get to see what your customers see. From that you learn how to create positive values for them.
   Kindergarten is a place for you were you can meet other people, give and get energy. Maybe even youíre still a kid deep inside? Use that playing mind to make your colleagues to see beyond the office walls.

9. Create imbalance. Stand on one leg during a meeting and seek imbalance. Seek imbalance in the market-place.
Problems arise if a company stands still. Many small companies get ahead of those larger companies that stand still.
   In the automotive sector, Lotus has jumped ahead with developments because itís not held back by big-company thinking. Itís proof you donít need to band together in mega-mergers if you can keep yourself nimble enough.
   Regardless of size, it is the mind that is important. To make this point, start by lifting your one leg, never mind how it looks. Feel how your body connects to your mind and try to feel the ideas in your body. Have fun and dance with your mind.

10. Use simple language. A good idea thrives on simplicity.
If you mix people from different backgrounds, you need to use a simpler language, because the others donít share your context. If you donít understand what someone else says, ask what they mean and try to go deeper to explore the question in a positive way.
   Even in only one department you have people who have went to different schools and had different teachers and values so they donít paint the same picture to the words.
   A creative idea is when you paint a picture together where everyone is reflectedóand can see everyone elseóin the picture.

11. Always go the extra mile and do a little more than whatís on the list.

Engeseth urges you to send this list to at least 10 people, copy it, post it in the elevator, use it on your home page, in your periodical or newsletter. The only condition is that you cite the source: www.detectivemarketing.com.