This post was authored by Russ Perry, founder of AZTC member company Design Pickle who hosted the June Council Connect signature luncheon.
When you think about your business, what are the factors that distinguish you from the competition? Is it great customer service? A great value? A hardworking team? I’m sorry to tell you, but those just aren’t unique anymore – every company should have all of these to be successful. However, after years in business, I’ve learned one thing: creativity is your secret weapon to profit. I’m not talking a catchy slogan or layout. I’m talking about out of the box thinking when it comes to how your business generates sales and increases productivity.
Harsh Fact: creativity doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve learned that there are 5 foundations to turning creativity into success.
Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player or the tablet. So why did people jump to purchase these items? Because no one knows better than Apple how to create raving fans. Humans are irrational buyers – we don’t purchase just because something is cheaper or frankly even because it’s better. We purchase because we have emotional connections. We create connections based on how brands make us feel: they are authentic, they are vulnerable, they put people first, etc. If we can connect with our customers, people will be more loyal. People want to feel connected to your brand. Find a way to make it happen.
Creativity thrives and flows in environments that are safe – where people feel free to express their ideas. Bad example: throwing everyone last minute into a boardroom asking them to “brainstorm.” Safe means a culture of contribution, freedom to fail, supportive leadership, and systems for contribution. You can’t create a safe environment for one particular situation; it has to be something that is deeply engrained in the culture of your company. Allow your team to fail and thrive and in the end it will bolster creativity and boost productivity.
We are human, and we like everything we do to have meaning. Everyone should be connected to what they do, and they expect their leadership to be too. This isn’t just “how to attract millennials” mumbo jumbo. Purpose driven organizations continuously see growth because their people have something to stand behind. According a recent study, purpose driving organizations see a 30 percent increase in productivity, have increased employee retention, and an increased HR pipeline. Give your employees a purpose and they will work harder and drive more creative solutions and results.
Today’s business market saturated. You have to stand out to see real results. While you have to be innovative in your product, you also have to be risky in how you get people to pay attention to what you have to say. I recently attended a show and instead of opting for the traditional trade show set up I decided to dress up in a pickle costume and hand out free pickles with my website information attached. This idea didn’t change how great my product was – but it made everyone want to come talk to me. This resulted in a 300 percent ROI on my pickle investment and the best two weeks of sales to date. Creativity is one of the best (and cheapest) tools in your box if done correctly.
All of this means nothing if you can’t executive on your new creative ideas. You must systematize implementation, because a big bucket of good ideas is totally worthless if you don’t implement them properly. The ugly truth: creative people suck at implementing. Therefore you need to hire the right people to help you get your ideas off the ground. You must adopt an executional framework, dedicate project management resources, and utilize external project management tools. When you executive your ideas to the max, it equals profit in every sense of the word.
I challenge everyone to find there “inner pickle” because when you truly unleash creativity into your workplace, there is no telling where it could lead. Never let fear rule your life or your business. As Alfred North Whitehead says, “The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.”