Strategies to Spark Creativity and Innovation

“Innovation is the new competitive advantage.”

– Julie Sweet

Plenty has been said about the necessity of innovation and creativity when it comes to business. But what does that mean? Just deciding to innovate is only a small part of actually sparking innovation. Successful innovation requires a surge of creative solutions. Yet often, people find themselves in a creative rut where the more they try to “force” creativity, the further they feel from an actual solution. In moments such as these, it is important to know that there are numerous strategies available that can combat this sort of stalemate.

One of the most useful strategies may be obvious to most: brainstorm with other people. Having other people to bounce ideas off of can not only introduce new views and ideas from others, but inspire a whole new idea, something no one person could have achieved alone. However, in the midst of a creative rut, and all immediate resources have been exhausted, it is still viable to use brainstorming as a strategy, but this time collaborating with a new group of people, furthering the diversity of potential creativity.

Along the same vein of crisis management and learning from mistakes, another strategy is to take a wide view of all past creative efforts. In doing this, one may learn not only what can be approved upon, but also be reminded of the strategies taken to achieve success previously. It’s not just innovations that benefit from this sort of reflection, but general business practices and market trends too.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that innovation and creativity should be a constant process rather than periodic events. The most successful businesses are always innovating and taking a creative approach to business on a day to day basis. Don’t let a temporary creative standstill halt innovation and success.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

Learning through Failure

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

– Henry Ford

There has been plenty said about the myriad of things one can do to avoid mistakes. Proper planning, quality control, and general foresight all play a part of the sort of crisis aversion that is typical in most businesses. However, mistakes occur, no matter how much foresight one has or how much planning they do. Humans have a tendency (when mistakes occur) to quickly brush them under the rug as quickly as possible; when we think there is a simple solution in sight, we tend to somewhat disregard the original mistake. Studies show, that failure can often lead to the best results in regard to learning and progression. In a sense, success is often better achieved by smaller failures, as ridiculous as that may sound.

It is important to realize that mistakes are a part of everyone’s success, even those you may view as industry giants. The handling of failures is first all about perception. Failures must be viewed in a constructive light. Don’t just think “Why did this happen to me?” or “Who else is to blame?” But rather, “How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?” and “Have I learned anything new about my situation during this process?” Though mistakes and their fallout can be stressful, it’s sometimes best not to immediately move on, for more knowledge can be gained while the mistake is still fresh in your mind.

Research shows that the classical idea of “failure as a motivator” can ultimately be detrimental. That being said, failure can still be used to motivate, it just shouldn’t be out of fear. Embracing failure as a tool and jumping point rather than an overpowering detrimental force can relate to a tremendous improvement in the handling of future mistakes as well as future successes.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

How to Ask the Right Questions

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

-Albert Einstein

It is known that one of the most essential elements in business and leadership is communication, but there is often an underrated but hugely important aspect of communication: questioning. In business anyway, we typically are not trained to put exceptional focus on questioning. If you retroactively look at your day to day interactions, you will come to realize how often you are asking questions. Being able to ask the right questions allows you to build a stronger bond with your employees and naturally improves your emotional intelligence, which then enables you to ask even better, more focused questions.

Not everyone has a knack for questioning, some people are inherently more inquisitive and instinctual than others. For most people, however, becoming a better questioner can be as simple as just asking more questions in general. A Harvard Business School study from 2018 found that some of the most common complaints after an interview or social gathering were “he/she didn’t ask enough questions.” Different things can stop us from asking questions like being scared of coming off rude, intrusive, or incompetent, but studies show that asking more questions typically leads to a stronger emotional connection with people.

Of course, the number of questions you ask is not the only thing that can improve your questioning. Understanding in what way you should be forming questions can go a long way. For one, listening astutely to the person you’re conversing with can help you form better follow-up questions. Building on this, it can be good to keep your questions somewhat open-ended. While open ended questions don’t work for every situation, it can help in newer relationships or at the beginning of a conversation. These sorts of questions allow others to feel more comfortable and not feel like your fishing for something or being nosey. In every type of question, it’s important to keep in mind your tone of voice. Particularly innocent questions can sometimes come off as rude or invasive, so keep the atmosphere of the situation and your tone of voice in mind at all times.

The right question can lead you to answers and relationships you never knew were possible. Even if you struggle to find the right way question, simply making the effort to ask shows that you are engaged and present. Take the time to evaluate how and how often you are asking questions as it may improve your communication skills greatly.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

How to Identify and Manage Stress

“It is not stress that kills us, it is your reaction toward it.”

– Dr. Hans Seyle

The truth is this: stress is a part of life, and a total avoidance of stressful situation is impossible. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain precautions and strategies available to combat stress. It’s best, first and foremost, to treat stress with as open a mind as possible.

Some instances of stress seem to come completely out of nowhere. There are times when you may feel like your plate is full and everything has piled up all at once. The best way to avoid situations such as these is to pay more attention to planning and to resist procrastination. Sometimes it can be difficult remember your myriad of responsibilities, so keeping a thorough schedule can be a big help. Though of course, sometimes chaos and over-commitment can seem unavoidable. In times like these, it’s important to be honest with yourself and reach out to others for assistance and communicate with those in your life.

There are other times where stress seems more constant, where you begin to feel like your daily life is filled with more and more chaos. The best way to combat this may be looking at your schedule, and, if possible, learning to distance yourself from certain commitments that have become too overbearing. This isn’t only for activities or work-based tasks, but also your regular interactions with people. If there are people in your life causing you more stress than necessary, be proactive in how you frame your interactions with them, communicate, and allow them to understand what may be affecting you.

One of the most important elements in eliminating stress is proactivity. In the moment, stress can seem overbearing and impossible to conquer. But once these moments pass, it is crucial to remember what caused you so much stress in the first place. There is a tendency to forget the stressors in moments of rest, but these are the exact moments where you should be employing precautions to minimize future stress. Understand that stress is normal, and you’ll begin to approach these situations with more vigor and a newly powerful mindset.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization