Running to stand still? Break the inertia, creatively.

Running to stand still? Break the inertia, creatively.


Do you feel like the hamster in the wheel? Running like crazy to stay where you are? Expending massive energy without moving onwards? Pressure is on to deliver more from less. Stress levels are rising as leadership expect new things faster while, at the same time, demanding nothing slips. The day to day processes are busier than ever, yet new growth needs something different to ignite change. Do you suspect external change is a great opportunity but the internal change needed to stimulate it is impossible to budge?

It’s never been as important for companies to develop new ideas, or as difficult to successfully launch them. After years of efficiency-driven cuts and bottom line focus, companies need new growth and meet new customer needs. Most of the skills required to address these needs have been eroded or outsourced by organisations. Marketing departments have been cut along with their budgets, yet leadership is demanding more from less in double quick time.

Companies see there are opportunities out there but are often stuck focused on the day to day processes needed to survive, or so concerned by gloomy predictions, that they become stuck in fear-fuelled inertia. Breaking out of inertia is vital as new ideas and innovations need to be tested quickly. Often, change needs to happen inside organisations in order to successfully create change & growth externally.

Innovation is no longer simply the focus for developing new, disruptive technologies and products.

Increasingly, companies are attempting to reshape their culture and physical work environments to encourage creative thinking across their enterprise.

But too many of the creative skills needed for change are being outsourced, yet new ideas that are owned and driven by internal people have more chance of being implemented.

One problem in attempting to instigate a new culture for encouraging creativity is that it can take time to set up. Failure should be treated as a positive learning experience and encouraged. At first, ideas are often generated in isolation of those they are intended to influence and this adds further time before the new ideas can be implemented. More time can lead to further pressure from leadership for the change, often adding to the inertia.

Perhaps the best idea is to consider smaller scale projects to create a short term actions in order to escape the inertia. To start to add some business creativity inside the organisation via a new initiative with a team that spans different silos – and include some “Doubting Thomases”. Give these teams’ space and time (a week or so) to try something new. Mentor these teams in benefits of collaboration and let them create some internal actions for change. Don’t put more stress on them – free them up to have fun in creating new things.

But make sure the context is clear. Interrogate the customers. Bring the competition to life. Use newcomers to the company in their first few days to represent customers or competition as part of their inductions. Create a map of opportunity that could your offer be outside & evaluate what is stopping you on the inside getting some new actions to address them.  Challenge the teams to create a momentum that gets noticed but via new initiatives that create a bit of a stir. Encourage them. Forgive them. Celebrate a failure & get them going again. Ensure they establish the barriers that stop a company experiment more freely. Maybe make the exercise all about breaking down such barriers!

By making the projects have an outside-in context in order to shape the initiatives and innovation, the possibility of change attaining growth increases. As changing the inside in order to deliver on the outside may allow the hamster wheel to move off its fixed axis and allow all that energy to burst forward and start a new momentum.

Creative thinking can lead organisations out of inertia

Creative thinking can lead organisations out of inertia

As CEO’s write up their wish lists for the New Year, many are asking for more creativity in their businesses. For much of the past couple of decades, the prime focus of many big companies has been increasing shareholder value. The driving force to deliver more of this – every 3 months, year after year – has been driven by cost optimisation. The career ladder to the C-suite has been fuelled by financial prowess. Creativity became something negative – creative accounting was frowned at. As organisations have become more efficient, the skills to cut, to manage and to control have risen above those to think differently, to innovate and to take risk. The bigger organisations have become safer & move at glacial speed when it comes to change. Silos have reared up and are often measured and advised in isolation.

Creativity is not an easy KPI to develop and spread evenly amongst these separate silos.  What’s needed is creativity – to develop new business models, new products, new offers, new customer understanding & new channels to deliver new experiences. But there is one place that creativity still exists – in company brands.

One thing that has always elevated brand thinking is creativity. The best brands seamlessly combine right & left brained thinking to meld the logical and strategic inputs into creativity-inspired solutions. Brand thinking however doesn’t always reach the boardroom – it is still thought of as something that is most effective outside of the company – in the form of advertising campaigns and corporate identity. This means brand creativity is often left to execute strategy rather than help create and shape the strategy. Breaking this paradigm and bringing in unexpected advisors to a boardroom can result in surprisingly positive initiatives. Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Brand thinking and the spirit of creativity can unleash many new internal projects. Using brand led advisors can help in realigning the internal organisation. They can help to rearticulate CEO visions and plans.  They can help transform a culture of an organisation to refocus positively to meet those visions. Creativity can lead to test new initiatives without committing to a(nother) fundamental change program. Brand led creativity can help engage all the company stakeholders and develop real value inside the organisation. They can help form small cross disciplined teams to collaborate, to quickly develop, test and seed different ideas. A few of these can break the inertia that a company faces when trying to accommodate the new using the old structure and processes.

While pure play creative people sit outside a company in agencies, studios, many are using their skills to help CEOs, CFOs & COOs to think differently. Creative thinkers naturally like to collaborate. They enjoy looking at solving old problems with a new approach.

Once these small initiatives are undertaken, and those that succeed are shared among more staff and managers, so engaging more people in doing new things inside a company, the brand can shape the external relationship with customers and suppliers. This can kick start a different experience to allow the brand to empower further creativity that can drive much needed growth.

So brand thinking can bring creativity early to the Boardroom and into the internal organisation. Business creativity will help unleash talent throughout the Organisation and add a positivity to a company culture that has  been dampened by years of cuts and fear of yet more as the economy slows further. A brand mentor can be as powerful creative tool for a CEO and can be used to start new internal initiatives to start the New Year off positively.