Monday, 25 June 2012

Mind Storm

Creativity in business is a funny thing. We all pay lip service to how important it is - but when times are tight and money is short we tend to pull up the drawbridge and say 'We can do without all this new-fangled innovation. While we're in trouble we need to stick with what we know.'

In reality, of course, this is absolute tosh. The very time when you need to be most creative as a business is when things are difficult. But it's understandable that, in times of financial stress, you don't necessarily want to spend lots of money to train people in being more creative.

There's an assumption in that previous sentence, of course. I'm taking it for granted that there is benefit in training people in creativity. I hope there's no doubt about the need for creativity. If everything around you stayed exactly the same, then you could carry on as you have before and thrive. But the fact is that the environment (financial and physical) is changing. Your customers are changing. Your competitors and your industry are changing. Techology is changing. You need creativity for new ideas, and you need it to solve problems. I think it's no exaggeration to say that in this environment, creativity is nothing less than a survival essential. It's a case of be creative or go to the wall.

However, is there any point in training people in creativity? Haven't they either got it or not? And what can you possibly do? Give them a pot of paint and say 'Get creative?'

In fact, there is a huge point. Everyone can be creative, but most of us suppress that natural ability. We block it in ourselves and in others. We're great at doing this. (If you doubt that statement, next time you are in a meeting, watch out for someone coming up with an idea, then see how everyone else finds reasons why it won't work.) And in the last few decades practical techniques have been developed that will enable anyone to come up with a much richer pool of ideas, and help them to develop and implement those ideas effectively. We're not talking about airy-fairy conceptual creativity, but down-to-earth, practical tools that solidly deliver ideas and problem solutions.

So, creativity training, good - cost of creativity courses, bad. If your business has the money, I would still get yourself a proper course. You can't beat the interaction with a good creativity trainer to get people up and running with creativity quickly. But if the budget doesn't run to it, I've put together a simple, self-managed 25 module course in the form of a PDF ebook called Mind Storm that won't break the budget at £19.99.

To get a better feel about what's involved, the first chapter of the book is available to download for free - or you can find out more details and purchase the full course here.

I really think, given the current conditions, any business that isn't doing something about its creativity is asking for trouble.


  1. It's great that you have done this. People are forever telling me that they're "not creative" and it drives me nuts. Actually, I have developed a power point presentation, which I'm also turning into a series of articles, called Literature for Social Change. It's based on how my novel led me to the founding of my writing workshop in Cambodia, but actually, it is about how creativity can not only be taught but more importantly, that those skills are transferable to the outside world. Good luck with this latest effort of yours!

  2. Thanks, Sue.

    I do a lot of creativity work with small and large businesses and one thing I always go through is the ways we block creativity. The first of these is people believing they aren't creative. The trouble with this is it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you aren't creative then you won't be.

    This seems to be primarily because you are then hugely self-critical of your own ideas. You know your ideas are rubbish, because you aren't creative. So you don't mention them or try them.

    Something else I point out that is always happening in business meetings is the way this attitude results in people shooting down their own ideas. So they will say 'It's stupid, but…' or 'I don't suppose it will work, but…' - in an attempt to protect themselves from being laughed at, they actively undermine their own ideas.