Five tips for thinking creatively as a critical business strategy

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annemarie Lombard

Section: Corporate

5 Tips for thinking creatively

We run regular one-day workshops for call center executives, corporate teams and leaders about sensory processing and its influence on behavior, performance, teamwork and wellness. I ask for feedback from every single person that goes through our hands and I do take their feedback seriously. A few months back, particular feedback kept me awake at night. It was this: “Annemarie, this is a brilliant workshop, but you can do it in half the time”. This was for a call center group of executives and run over one day. We did sensory intelligence introduction, neuroscience, learning about the brain, recruitment strategies and training solutions – all around understanding human brains and how they respond in crazy, busy, overloaded work environments. Woven through this process is a lot of discussion times; we divide in small groups; discuss certain themes and then do group feedback. During such times the room comes alive and people enthusiastically share their thoughts, ideas and solutions. So what happens in such situations?

I stimulate the brain with new information, then I provide opportunity to think and talk these through with peers, after which we reflect back as a total group. Then we follow these discussions with site visits and sharing best practice space and design ideas. In other words we tap into various information processing centers; listening, thinking, talking, engaging, moving (we tour the building on foot!), reflecting and discussing. We move from new knowledge and information to ideas and strategies. This process in my opinion is: Creativity + Thinking space = Strategy. But the key factor necessary to obtain this is TIME!

Can I do this all in half a day? No way – I just cannot. So what happens in today’s world – we just don’t have time to go through this process, hence the feedback that I should run the workshop in less time. Time is money is what I’m told. But how are we using this time – running at full speed and never stop to think, analyse and reflect? This is the madness of our modern day living – we just never have time to stop, think and reflect anymore. At full speed we can only implement and do as much as we can as fast as we can. But we will never be able to do things on a higher, creative, strategic level at this pace – the brain needs space and time to think out of the box. Speed and less time do not allow us the ability to be creative and strategic – it only allows us the ability to get things done, regardless of quality and volume….
Let us be more open to put time aside to think, reflect, talk and strategize – it is becoming a lost skill!

Do you make time to think and reflect? If you are battling with something and need solutions; allow yourself the time and opportunity to really think it through. I would suggest the following:
1. Block off time in your calendar. Whatever you choose – double that immediately. In other words if you feel you can only spare 1 hour then make it 2 hours. If you need 2 hours then make it 4 hours…. We do not allow for enough time to get to the important stuff!
2. Go into a different space and environment that you normally do not work or operate in. If you surround yourself with alternative environments, the brain gets stimulate on different levels. So go off site – a garden, outside space, hotel reception area, next to a swimming pool, etc. Our physical and sensory surroundings influence our thinking and creativity extensively.
3. Switch off your technology (yes, that does mean your phone, iPad and computer) as you need to avoid all distractions. And put it away – no use the ringer is off but every time it vibrates you are distracted. Off and out of sight please!
4. Use a big white sheet/board/paper – it does not matter – but allow yourself the time to doodle, write, draw, sketch. Use different colors and draw pictures or quotes, anything that you might come up with. If you are alone this is easy. If you are in groups allow each person to brainstorm by themselves and write things down, or draw pictures.
5. I always work around 3 points – Where am I now? Where was I before? Where do I want to go? These 3 key points become my reference on reflecting on the here and now, evaluating the past and ideas to move forward. You will have a brain map as a reference. I then usually follow this up with a clearly defined goal that gets sliced into action steps.

Time is our biggest commodity but it is important to put some aside for new ideas, creativity and thinking, If you want to be challenged to think and do things differently in the contact center industry.