Hi. Your question sparks my ever stronger belief that without Creativity, Imagination and Innovation a business will soon find its doors closed. While earning my Bachelor's, one of my classes focused on the need for creativity/imagination in the business world. New ideas are what attract attention to any business. Going "out-on-a-limb" and going for it...making the "unthinkable" idea come alive is the beauty of creativity and imagination-and the foundation for innovation.
May I ask - "What is your business?" This will be key to defining where you need the creative and imaginative input. Please contact me I would be happy to discuss some creative ideas and get your business booming!
Adding to what others have answered...since you have a strong background from purchasing & logistics...imagine how innovative solutions could have added value, reduced the overall supply chain costs throughout the end-to-end horizontal value streams including Tier-1 & Tier-2 levels of your supplier partners.Imagine how logistics optimisation innovative solutions have made a difference to your customers by bringing that agility across that entire horizontal value streams moving from traditional inventory build ups to just-in-time or just in sequence delivery systems based on customer pulls. Imagine how some of the IT innovations helped to achieve that online bidding made easy across the flat world with multiple supplier partners spread across the globe...imagine how logistics & packing optimisation techniques have saved millions of dollars for business improvement & adding their bit of contribution to even the environmental goals...of course still a long way to go...keep experimenting ,keep innovating with products,services,processes,etc. ,have fun & continue to spread "shiny eyes & smiles". ciao
output => value add
input => new approach/ solution/ idea/ creation
process => iterate between reality and fantasy
You have many great answers already so I thought I would provide some examples of how I've used creativity to help with: 1) Moving major customers away from our competitors and to us, and 2) Product diversification.
I specialise in innovation and helping identify creative solutions to increase revenue so you are speaking to a convert! :)
And creativity/innovation helps generate 1,000's of dollars in free marketing - one of my companies has been featured in National Geographic and Popular Mechanics contacted us last week about mentioning our creative use of 3D printers.
1. Winning new customers or moving them from their existing suppliers.
I had the task of winning back a major account that had become comfortable with their new supplier. The stock standard discussions with them about price and service failed to identify any negatives in their supplier to counter or improve upon. They were 'happy to stay where they are'. So I used some creativity to come up with an outside the box offer for them and this was to use some of our lab space for their staff and a particular project. This had never been offered by any others and was unheard of. They took us up on the offer. Their staff got to mingle with our staff, had a good experience, and as a result we had an improved relationship and they started sending us work and this grew.
In another example of wanting more of the lion's share of work from a client, they explained they would give us more but we didn't have enough drop off points where they could leave samples for us to analyse. Pretty hard to just establish drop off points but we kicked around ideas with the team and by luck found out that the company we rented our offices from had outlets all over the State - so I approached them and they agreed to act as a receiving point for samples. I went back to the client with this solution and we gained 40% more business.
2. Creative modification of a product to generate more sales.
I headed up an R&D section developing an irrigation pipe for large water flows. There was demand but it was slow in uptake so we used creativity to identify what else we could do with the product. As a result we cut it into short lengths and produced a bladder rainwater tank for domestic use and a smaller version for emergency water storage during natural disaster relief or temporary refugee camps.
In short, if you don't innovate, you stagnate. And in my experience, there are TWO places you need to turn to to get the creative answers you need in order to significantly improve the business...your staff and your customers.
The only way this will happen is creating a new corporate culture through improved leadership to create a culture based upon creativity imagination and innovation. Many companies try different ways to achieve your goals, but they are looking at the solution through new processes, systems or specific out of the box tactics to try to make it happen. Leaders and managers are the messengers of the corporate culture. They need to embrace it and empower and inspire their teams. The best way is to get all the heads in the game. That is to create cross-functional teams and work with your customers to get out of your comfort zone. Allow the ability to think outside the box and not put road blocks up before you even get started.
What traditionally is the biggest hurdle, is that most managers are not leaders and rely on the formal position of power and put up those road blocks. They think about control or credit and this stifles creativity, because they do not want to be seen as failing. A positive culture where failure is not fatal, but not changing could be.
Leadership is about influence creating a vision and empowering others to execute. You need to influence the teams to embrace and foster inward motivation, that they can make a difference and try new ideas and concepts. .
Remember Thomas Edison or any inventor had their share of disappointment. Let your team know it is OK to try new things and if it is wrong learn from it and move on. If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes. I know many companies look at mistakes as bad. The most import thing is what do you do afterwards. Companies want to try to make sure they do the right thing and look at so much data that it gets in the way of creativity, you need some data to have a hypothesis or idea but do not let it rule your decision
Empower your teams and employees there is such a creative force there. Management does not have all the answers. Have a culture of WHY, challenge how you think and what you do. The range of opportunities is only limited by what you do not know or notice, and because you fail to notice, there is little that you can do to change until you notice and can reshape your thoughts and deeds.
Individuals leaders know how to get from point A to point B, and are very good at it. But to take it to a whole new level requires noticing a range of opportunities and organizational leadership skill sets that require the organization to get out of their comfort zone and this might be the reason they are stuck. Leadership as in athletics is noticing and using the power of the team, Business should do the same thing to use the team to think outside the box to achieve extraordinary success.
The question should not be "how could", but "can our business improvement process be helped without creativity and innovation"?
Paraphrasing "the true definition of crazy is doing the same "business" processes over and over again and expecting a different result", and it's something the so called established companies forget. In order to truly improve your business, the organization needs a commitment from everybody, from fist line employees, to the top executives. Without three commitment any organizational changes should and most probably will fail because of organizational inertia and risk avoidance.
One of the biggest threats to "creativity, imagination, and innovation" is the classical modern "management by consensus" process; and one I truly recommend your organization to quickly avoid. Here is an article outlining some of the consequences of trying to innovate by consensus ( http://www.inloso.com/?p=413 ). And paraphrasing Paul Litwack "imagination is 100% unconsciously driven", and you need to let it grow before you can actually decide if it is the right idea for your organization (hint voting on it early will kill it immediately)...
Hope this helps you and your organization.
Imagination and Creativity gives rise to innovation and innovation in strategy, processes, services, products, and business models facilitate an organization of any sector or industry, to create and capture value in entirely new/ distinctive ways, leading to continuous growth. Innovations are the result of creatively putting your imagination/ ideas into practice through the use of measurable action plans.
Uniqueness in your product/ services/ strategy leads you to be principal / preferred organizations in the market.
To reframe your thinking, give you a new perspective, rediscover hidden talents and opportunities, and to reinvent what you do and how you do it. Always a positive and key part of developing and sustaining a successful business.
The problem with the standard business model and all of its inherent theories is that, although it gives you a safe base for running a business, it gives the same rules and theories to all of your competitors. Creativity, imagination and innovation are the things that theories cannot give you and which give you a competitive edge not to mention making running your business more fun.
But remember, despite an education conveyor belt system designed to strip these characteristics from you, we were all born creative. So don't assume that it is only the business owner that will have creative ideas to improve the business. Encourage all of your staff to think creatively about business improvement.
Creativity and imagination grant you the ability to look at problems in new perspectives. The sticky note may have technically been invented by accident, but its creative application and marketing was no fluke! It was a result of a deliberate and focused concentration of creativity and business savvy. The same goes with Velcro, the Swiffer, Airbnb and Uber.
If you and your peers allow each other to be creative and to use your imaginations with no judgments and no censorship, then you stand a chance of borrowing ideas from others, combining them, looking at challenges in new ways, asking inquisitive questions that start with "how might we ..." instead of "why haven't you ...", and overall, increasing everyone's morale.
And if you are able to sustain and cultivate this kind of culture, you will eventually, inch by inch, move your business towards solving real problems in innovative ways.