10 Steps to Creativity and Innovation

By: Brent Neal

Tesla. Apple. GoPro.

The mere mention of the names of these corporations provoke thoughts of companies who are innovative, creative, and successful. They set themselves apart from the status quo. They are leaders in their industries and set the bar for the competition.

Companies such as Tesla, Apple, and GoPro do things differently than everyone else. They do not “copy” what others do. They somehow do them in a completely different way. Creative and innovative organizations build upon the ideas of others, using them as a spring board for their own unique products or services. Apple did not invent the phone, they changed the concept of how we use it. Tesla neither invented the automobile nor did they create the first electric car. They wanted to make a car that was better and more fun to drive. GoPro did not come up with the camera, they determined a better use for it.

Businesses that are both creative and innovative become the most successful. These companies find ways to distance themselves from the competition, rather than competing with them. This is why Microsoft failed in their attempt at the phone. They tried to mimic what was already there; what Apple and Google had already done. Microsoft was neither creative nor innovative, they were mimicking the competition and did not provide anything that was not already in the marketplace. They merely produced their own version.

What is creativity?

Creativity is being imaginative, taking an original idea, and generating something new. It takes an envisioned concept and translates it into reality.

What is innovation?

Innovation is making changes to something that is already established. It is introducing new ideas, methods, or products. Innovation adds value by altering what you know of something.

How can you be both creative and innovative?

When you study the two definitions, it seems like you cannot be both creative and innovative. Creativity is making something new that did not exist before. Whereas, innovating is taking something that already exists and putting a new spin on it. Yet, companies like Apple, Tesla, and GoPro are being both creative and innovative. They understand the keys to success are taking an existing product or service and envisioning something greater with it. These companies are creatively innovating.

Ten steps to creatively innovating

  1. Encourage your creative people to develop their ability to observe the environment.
  2. Understand how the product/service currently works, what people like and dislike about it, and think about what changes would excite the marketplace if they existed.
  3. Define any current problems, then completely redefine the problem and the solution.
  4. Think about what others might not be seeing or doing. The goal is to be unique.
  5. Contemplate on things you see and about problems you can fix.
  6. Allow time to imagine new frontiers, new possibilities, and new futures. This is a time of waiting, examining, and pondering upon everything.
  7. Adjust your perception as it is most likely limiting your ability to think differently. Avoid casting judgment upon an idea or dismissing it completely. Think about how it might fit, work, or change the landscape.
  8. Avoid becoming part of an existing pattern by mimicking trends of what others are doing. Do not try to replicate others, but focus on differentiating yourself.
  9. Realize ideas start at the beginning of the innovation process and should not occur throughout. Once you come up with several great ideas, begin to refine them. Do not continue to come up with new ideas as you will spiral into a constant idea generation cycle and never reach a conclusive end.
  10. Visualize an end goal and begin to move towards it!

Creativity and Innovation in Action

Companies that are creatively innovating revolutionize, transform, and impact the marketplace. Apple understood that the market wanted mobile phones. They were already an innovative computer company so they contemplated how a phone could be used differently than it was at the time. Their people considered new problems, new possibilities, and envisioned new solutions. They understood that if they made another phone, they would lose. The competition already controlled the marketplace. They had to create a new experience by completely envisioning a new way to use an existing product. When they did, they revolutionized the way we use and think about our phones.