How to be creative » SMEInsider

How to be creative

Creativity in business isn’t just the domain of designers and Silicon Valley rockstars.  Successful companies, products and services identify a problem and find a way to solve it, or to solve it in a better way than their competitors, and learning to do that is the essence of being creative.

Much is made of the role that strong business instincts play in success, but as the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown, the accuracy of our instincts changes with the conditions we’re working in. When we’re relaxed, happy and in “flow”, our snap responses are actually more trustworthy; when we’re stressed, pressured and distracted, our instincts are dulled and our responses become chaotic.

Running your own business is frequently a highly pressured and exhausting experience, which not only impacts on your health but impacts on your ability to keep a clear head and make effective, creative decisions. Maintaining a sense of balance and staying excited about your business isn’t only more fun for you and your team, it also helps you to run your company in the best possible way.

This week, we look at how you can to foster the right kind of environment and mindset for innovation in your workplace. There’s no magical formula to becoming more creative, but there are ways of approaching a problem and managing talent that give space for genuinely good ideas to emerge, be tested and put into practice. We’ll hear from SMEs and entrepreneurs that are doing really exciting things in their space, and explore the practical steps that helped them get to where they are.

We’ll also talk to Kevin Ashton, the veteran tech innovator and author that invented the concept of the internet of things, on why there’s no such thing as creative genius, and how to work smarter and harder to come up with breakthrough ideas.

Finally, we’ll look at the mundane and often-underrated factors that can help or hinder the creative process, such as ways to cut down your workload and free up more time, improve the way that “best practice” ideas are shared within teams, and access new skills and technologies to tackle your business problems.

We’d love to hear your views and perspectives. Please tweet us @SMEInsider with the hashtag #CreativeBizStories


  • Mark Elgar

    I, like many people I think, have moved between the pressure approach to action and decision-making (as in ‘I always work better under pressure, I always leave my decisions to the last minute)’ to the calm approach (as in ‘let me take all the time I need to consider options and make my decisions or to complete this task’). I don’t know if it’s an age thing or experience but these days I am tending towards the calmer approach. The approach which allows me to make decisions based on as many facts as I can get but still leaves me time to think of all the non-factual influences which need to be considered. And which leaves time for one final overall review of a major decision just to see if I can have any new perspectives on my original thinking which may have been flawed by that initial rush of enthusiasm not yet tempered by reflection. Who out there favours the stress approach and who the calm one? And is it age related or a character trait which is embedded?