Art Of Thinking Differently To Spark Creativity Commerce Essay


Global business scenario is undergoing a very rapid transformation. The advent of web-based business practices is forcing companies to make changes in the existing methods of conducting their businesses. Internet has already become so all-pervasive that with passage of a little more time, it will become impossible to do anything without internet access. Besides, the changes brought in by web-based practices, other factors such as global recession, poor health of world economy, rising unemployment and political uncertainty have made the competition very fierce. In such a scenario, it has become even more essential that businesses maintain a constant vigil for new management ideas that can drive innovative thinking towards generating practical solutions to many problems. This ability to think differently has a potential to spark creativity in applying business principles for enhancing performance and adding value to an organization. Creativity and innovation are important virtues which require working actively for team building. The task of cultivating new skills and their practical implementation is a key for modern businesses. Towards this objective, use of modern business tools and a perspective change is extremely essential. As an example, very often we err on assuming that good ideas arise of their own accord. It is a myth which must be exposed. Fresh and practical ideas can from anyone in the organization. Brainstorming sessions have amply demonstrated how even an ordinary salesperson can throw up an important idea. Therefore, it is time we overcame the set mind trap about creativity as an aptitude; some people have it, others don't. Then there is the other self-defeating belief - "I am not intelligent enough to come up with good ideas." These assumptions are rarely true. Anyone can come up with a fresh, radical idea. It is merely a matter of opening our minds and think differently.

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Keywords: Management, Ideas, Idea Generation, Implementation, Techniques, Think Differently, Creativity, Innovation, Brainstorming, Business, Perspective


Contemporary idea generation techniques are focused on taking up an existing idea and adapting it with minor variations. This is the least-risk approach and generally employed by less confident managers. Yes, one can get the results but strictly speaking, this cannot be termed as innovation. To make a substantial difference, managers must be equipped with modern tools that could help them leap on a bigger and an entirely different platform. The application of modern tools for creating a novel idea and use it as base for a new business strategy is an essential management task. Innovations in approaches have the capability of pushing one's mind in forging new connections, changing the mind-set and considering new perspectives. However, anyone trying these approaches requires to be well versed in the area of his activity. The downside is, if anyone is ill-prepared and does not have the requisite information, the chances of coming up with a new idea is remote. But a wholehearted and careful application of modern methods can lead to creativity with exemplary results in enhancing business value. While the use of powerful tools such as brainstorming sessions can yield unique business ideas, the job is only half done if translation of such ideas into practical reality is not implemented.


Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. It requires passion and commitment and brings to our awareness what was previously hidden. Creativity can produce outcomes that are novel, high quality and appropriate to the task. These outcomes include products, services, ideas, processes, or procedures. Creativity drives innovation by involving individuals and their organizational skills to keep pace with changes and generate new business opportunities. Innovation is dependent on interaction among people, the processes they engage in, and the environment in which they work. However, it is the end result which is critical. A creative product is thus an embodiment of creativity and innovation. This way, creativity points to new life by thinking and producing and leads to innovation which is the production or implementation of an idea [1] . If you have ideas, but fail to act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.

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Fig. 1 Sparking Creativity From Radical Ideas1.


According to the National Innovation Initiative [2] , innovation is "The intersection of invention and insight, leading to the creation of social and economic value." Innovation can make meaningful change to improve an organization's products, services, programs, processes, operations, and business model to create new value for the organization and you to new dimensions of performance. Innovation is important for all aspects of business operations, work systems and work processes. Organizations should be led and managed so that innovation becomes part of the learning culture, integrated into daily work and supported by the performance improvement system. For innovation to flourish, organizations must create an environment that fosters creativity; bringing together multi-talented groups of people who work in close collaboration together, exchanging knowledge, ideas and shaping the direction of the future.


The very nature of product creativity emphasizes the need for its measurement. There have been extensive studies on how to measure creativity in its broadest sense. Experts in the field have suggested three approaches for measuring product creativity; indirect measurement, global judgment and criterion-based measurement. These approaches have been developed both in a domain-general and a domain-specific context. Analysts have used many methods and criteria in attempting to measure product or functional creativity. Surprising, however, only a few studies have been aimed at assessing product creativity in the sense of tangible, scientific or technological products. In contrast, many experts have carried out mathematical assessment of functional creativity. Work of Cropley and Cropley (2005) needs special mention. They have argued that novelty takes precedence over usefulness in determining creativity. However, in the practical world of products, processes, systems, and services, the most important aspect is the product's ability to meet customer needs. This is perceived as its effectiveness. An automobile, for instance, must transport people quickly, economically and comfortably over long distances. If it fails to meet this need, it cannot be called effective, no matter how novel it is.

Cropley and Cropley [3] classified creative products using four dimensions; Effectiveness, Novelty, Elegance and Genesis. They arranged them in a hierarchical order from routine product, characterized by effectiveness alone at one pole, to the innovative product, characterized by effectiveness, novelty, elegance and genesis at the other. In between fell the Original and Elegant products. Table1 shows this classification, where a plus sign means that a property is necessary for this kind of product and a minus sign that it is not. The schematic can also be used to demonstrate the position of pseudo- and quasi-creativity: i.e. novelty without effectiveness. The table shows that as a product moves from routine to innovative, it incorporates all the properties of products at lower levels, but also adds something to them.































Table1. Levels and Kinds of Creativity in Products3

It is important to stress that routine products should not be dismissed out of hand. They may be very useful: In areas such as engineering, for example, a very large number of products perform important functions that benefit humankind and contribute to the advancement of society even though they may be devoid of novelty. However, because they lack novelty their creativity is qualitatively different.

Confirmatory Factor Analysis

The Creative Solution Diagnosis Scale (CSDS) is based on a theoretical model of functional creativity that links four dimensions (Relevance & Effectiveness; Novelty; Elegance; Genesis) to a larger set of 30 variables of indicators. In contrast, Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) involves specifying and estimating one or more possible models of a factor structure. In the case of functional creativity, a set of latent factors (individual measures, or items) are seen to account for co-variances among a set of observed variables. Table 2 Shows results [4] , [5] of CFA done by Bagozzi (1980) and Bollen (1989). This CFA has used designations of plausible factor patterns from previous theoretical or empirical work tested statistically against sample data. Four primary factors (Relevance & Effectiveness, Novelty, Elegance and Genesis) provide a framework for explaining the functional creativity construct by identifying underlying components that permit more precision in formulating and testing. Principle Axis Factoring was selected as the extraction method for its ability to examine shared variance and to uncover the structure of the underlying variables.

Functional Creativity


& Effectiveness







New Knowledge
































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Table 2. Theoretical Model Based on Creative Solution Diagnosis Scale4,5


Conservative approach is a safe approach. A large number of managers are wary to launch wholesale changes in their businesses for the fear of failure. The safety-first method keeps them stuck in set thinking patterns. This needs to change if a decisive difference is required. This also is the need of the hour since coming days are going to see a fierce competition among businesses. There are many techniques which creative managers can use for breaking the existing thought patterns and get over their established mindsets. It is not an easy task to start with because there is very strong inertia for any change from set practices. But if a manager cares for his organization, he will have to adapt such changes for the collective benefit of his organization. Some of the suggested steps with illustrations are listed below:

Start Thinking In a Reverse Way: If you are caught in the conundrum where new ideas fail to strike your mind, try to turn everything upside-down. Now instead of concentrating on how to change a business strategy, improve shop-floor operation or improve a product design, think of creating disorder. Assume you have to sabotage the business strategy, worsen shop-floor performance or create an inferior product design. Keep thinking of all the negatives. The chances are that your mind will become full of several reverse ideas. Consider all such ideas for some time and then reverse them again. This may throw up possible solutions for the original challenge.

Change Your Assumptions: One has his assumptions for every situation. We never challenge our set beliefs. To be creative, think of challenging your set beliefs and assumptions. This revolutionary method of changing your assumption can present the yet unforeseen possibilities on which to build upon your next move. Examine this with an illustration where you are stuck with the problem of buying a new house. In a natural course you may give up the idea just because you don't have enough cash for making a down payment. Challenge this assumption by considering the disposal of some of your current assets like a car, or family gold etc. You can also chance upon taking extra work which may generate extra cash in, say, a years' time. Once the set assumptions are challenged, so many possibilities could emerge. The whole scenario may start looking rosy.

Try to Redefine Your Problem: Sometimes stating the problem in different words can lead to new ideas. To find different words, start looking at the problem from several angles. Question yourself on why you need to solve the problem or where do you often get stuck. Or contemplate the consequences of not finding a solution. Such questions may enable a fresh look at the problem. It is very likely that the reworded problem could provide you with new ideas for solving the problem. As per an old story, shipping companies suffered losses on freighter services during 1950-1960. Despite attempts to introduce faster and more efficient freighters, the problems continued. Then they sought help of an expert to get over this dicey issue. The expert just redefined their problem and insisted on a focus of reducing costs. This opened up a new approach as the problem was reworded from making operational profits to cost reduction in operations. The industry quickly lapped up the idea and all efforts were directed towards reducing all types of costs like those incurred on cargo storage, loading and unloading time, turnaround time and so on. The container concepts in shipping emanated from that idea. Today many such container designs are in popular use by shipping companies.


Experience has shown that some of the best ideas present themselves as chance occurrences. A manager could be deep in thought about a problem and out pops the solution from nowhere. It might happen while he is hearing something or watching someone totally unrelated to the problem in hand. From history, too, we have examples of Newton and Archimedes. And when such a thing happens, the manager should use the random element in trying to think about connecting the unconnected. This is a fodder for the mind which should stimulate brain cells. Managers can capitalize on such out-of-the-world enlightenment and use the stimulus for creating a connection of the chance happening to their current situation. Towards this end, management experts have devised some techniques, some of which are listed here:

Pick up any item: It may look weird at first, but this technique can provide an effective stimulus. From your workplace pick up any item and ask yourself how it can help in solving your problem; or which attribute of the item is uniquely built to throw up the solution.

Use a Random Input: Browse the pages of your dictionary and settle on any word. Then look for a unique solution by connecting the word to the situation at hand.

Mind-mapping: Think of a phrase or a keyword. Put the keyword or phrase somewhere on a blank page. Then write something on the same page write anything that strikes your mind at that instant and start trying to make a connection.

Pick up any picture or photo: Look at the picture or the photo very closely. Thinks about how you can relate any of the features to the problem at hand.


Years of experience result in building a perspective. This perspective then becomes a basis of our ideas for solving problems. And however hard you might try, changing the perspective is not easy; it creeps in your thought process every time you are seeking a solution to a problem. But in order to try new ideas it is necessary to change this set perspective. Many techniques have been devised to achieve this:

Use the perspective of other people: You can begin by asking different people as to how they would react when faced with the same situation. Ask a child; ask your friends and your spouse. Ask anyone from a different culture and listen closely what they have to say.

Put yourself in different shoes: Sometimes such role-reversal can help. You can assume you are Bill Gates and then use your imagination to think how Gates could react to your situation. Every person has some identifiable traits, which makes him react to the same situation in a manner based on his own perspective. A champion sportsperson like Roger Federer might like to bring in precision, persistence and perfection.

Use Idea Generation Enablers: Enablers have been defined as actions or activities which assist in the process of decision making by generating ideas as opposed to directly provoking the decisions. Enablers help in creating a positive frame of mind and enhance the adrenalin. Management experts have proposed some of the better known enabling techniques which managers can use at workplace in arriving at a decision.

Self Belief: Start believing you are a creative person. Think that, regardless of the past, the ideas will now come to you. This self belief can reinforce a positive frame of mind.

Rest Your Mind: While you are still in the middle of solving a problem, take time to go for a short walk or play with your children. Your mind can get some much needed rest from constant thinking. Then when you return to the task in hand, you may find the connections to lead you to the right solution.

Change of environment: Many times, the change from your set environment can help. If you leave the confines of your office and visit a nearby coffee shop, the change in settings around you can stimulate your mind. Take your colleague for a short walk in the garden and speak to him about the problem. This change in environment can bring about major changes.

Keep out Distractions: For a while, switch off your mobile phone, close the door of your office cabin, divert your phone calls and be aloof. This brief isolation could help in the generation of a novel idea.

Bring in some fun: Talk to your friends who can make you laugh, hear comic stories or indulge yourself in some fun. This method is a great stimulator of novel ideas.


Brainstorming has emerged as powerful tool that has helped managers in the creation of novel ideas and thereby address their business problems. As a popular tool, brainstorming is particularly useful when one wants to do away with the old-fashioned and established patterns of thinking. This helps in developing new ways of looking at things and overcoming many dicey issues which have made group problem-solving an unsatisfactory process. When the whole team is involved in brainstorming, it brings in the collective experience of all team members in finding a solution to the problem. Brainstorming increases the richness of ideas explored and better solutions are possible for many business problems. In addition, brainstorming boosts morale of those involved by an induced feeling that they, too, are contributors in decision making. Besides, the positive and rewarding brainstorming atmosphere helps team members bond with one-another. The concept of brainstorming was first developed in 1950s by Alex Osborn, who was an advertising executive from Madison Avenue. From that humble beginning, have explored the technique and made it more sophisticated.

What is Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a unique informal approach to problem-solving in a relaxed participatory environment which encourages lateral thinking. The participants come up with ideas and thoughts that, at the first glance, appear crazy. But there is no criticism of such ideas because some of these can be articulated into original, creative solutions to the problem at hand. The objective is making people think out of the box. During brainstorming sessions, people are encouraged to try opening up possibilities and do away with wrong assumptions. No judgments are made at this stage and all ideas are evaluated only at the end of the session.

How Brainstorming Helps: Conventional methods of problem-solving by groups were found to be riddled with a thousand problems, one of which could be traced to the ego contest. People with king-sized ego, dominate decisions by looking down upon the quieter crowd. Less confident participants are scared of being ridiculed if they express any idea freely. Excessive respect for authority results in ineffective participation. In contrast, brainstorming provides a freewheeling environment in which everyone is encouraged to participate. Quirky ideas are welcomed, and many of the issues of group problem-solving are overcome. All participants are asked to contribute fully and fairly, liberating people to develop a rich array of creative solutions to the problems they're facing.

Group Brainstorming: Group brainstorming can be very effective since it brings to the fore, the collective experience and creativity of all members of the group. In the event of an individual group member getting stuck with an idea, another member's creativity and experience can take the idea to the next stage. Therefore, group brainstorming has a potential to develop ideas in greater depth compared to individual brainstorming. Sometimes, group brainstorming can present the risk for an individual idea to be laughed at, if the chairperson is not careful. Creativity should not be stomped upon.

Individual Brainstorming: Studies have shown that although, group brainstorming is seen more effective at generating ideas, individual brainstorming yields better quality ideas at times. This is attributable to bad group behavior playing a role during group sessions while such is not the case with individual brainstorming. When an individual brainstorms on his own, he can come up with a wider range of ideas because then, he does not have to worry about hurting egos. One can be more freely creative than when he is participating in group brainstorming. In individual brainstorming, one does not have to wait for others to stop speaking for contributing the idea. But as a general rule, the group brainstorming has the advantage of the wider experience of other group members.

How to Use the Brainstorming Tool: The best results can be had by combining individual and group brainstorming and successfully managing the process. There are some ground rules which managers can follow. For successfully and effectively running a group brainstorming session, the following guidelines are suggested:

Find an appropriate meeting environment and prepare it for the ensuing session with an able moderator for recording the ideas proffered in the session. The ideas should be noted in a suitable format so than everyone can see and refer to.

If the participants have never sat in this group earlier or they are not already used to working together, use a warm-up exercise. This is called an ice-breaker.

Clearly state the problem that needs a solution. Define the criteria which the participant must meet. Tell everyone that the purpose of the session is to generate as many ideas as possible.

Allow people as much time as they need by advanced circulation of the meeting agenda. This way they will come prepared for the session. Before the start of the session, tell the participants that they have the freedom to frankly generate as many ideas as possible. Ensure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to contribute. Keep encouraging participants to pick up from other people's ideas for creating new ones.

Ensure that an atmosphere of enthusiastic, uncritical flow of ideas prevails during the session. Try to get everyone to contribute including the quietest members of the group.

Do not allow criticism or idea evaluation during the session. Criticism introduces an element of risk for group members when putting forward an idea. This stifles creativity and cripples the free running nature of a good brainstorming session. Make sure that participant enjoy and have fun during the session. They make come up with a variety of ideas from practical ones to utterly wild.

It must be borne in mind that no train of thought is followed for too long. But ensure that the session generates a sufficient number of different ideas.

If a session is likely to run for a long time, take plenty of breaks to ensure undivided attention of the participants.

It is necessary that participants in the brainstorming session are drawn from wide a range of disciplines. This ensures a broad range of experience to the session and better creativity. But too big a group is not effective. A group of 5-7 people is often most the ideal size of the group.


There are countless occasions, when a bright idea did not find any use. Managers will easily recount stories of unused ideas, which if implemented, could have revolutionized the way their office operated or a great product design with a mass appeal on global level remained on the floorboard. Why does this happen? One of the reasons can be attributed to a very elaborate work required for making a creative idea work for you. Even if the idea is a small, most of us are bogged down by potential obstacles when we imagine taking action. Another reason is a fear of moving out of our current, comfortable space. Brainstorming is easy and fun part and it generates useful ideas. The difficult part is sustaining the excitement while your ideas are put into practice. [7] The wholesale computerization of our life has translated the old action of inking to typing and putting pen to paper to fingers on the keyboard.

If you are not well versed in the art of packaging the ideas call an expert who has the necessary qualifications and experience to do this job for you.

If you fall short of the confidence in your ideas at the brainstorming sessions, re-group with your team to re-inspire.

If it ever crosses your mind that the idea is particularly risky, experts can help you understand the potential issues or problems.

Lastly, if you aren't very sure how to gain acceptance of your ideas, involve key people in the brainstorm, idea selection and packaging. Take inspiration from an adage which can facilitate implementation. The saying is crucial for anyone who has worked in a leadership role from the first step and it goes like this; "I will take life-long responsibility for implementing my ideas."


What is the use of an elaborate and painstaking exercise, which produced a brilliant idea but the idea could not be implemented. This inability to act on a novel idea for any reason is a self-defeating aspect if organizations fall short of translating the idea into action. Tools like brainstorming are useful ways of generating radical solutions to problems. In a world where competition in business is becoming fiercer with the passage of time, managers must act on innovative ideas generated by brainstorming sessions. Internet-based marketing has added to an already burgeoning list of business competitors. Translating creative ideas to real life situations is the most important last step since this implementation generates the full value from the entire exercise after so many steps. If the idea is poorly packaged, it would not connect to certain attributes. It is then just as good as creating no ideas at all. So the overriding implication in this last phase is packaging and delivering such ideas in a form which adds value to the company's business. Many very creative people fail at this stage. They have fun creating new products and services that may be years ahead of their competitors but they fail to develop them further and lose out on this final count. Even more painful is a scenario when these creative people become moot watchers when someone else has picked up the same idea and implemented it for a resounding business success.