Is creativity enough?

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good ideas and problems - morning session brai...
good ideas and problems – morning session brainstorming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever participated in a so-called “brainstorming session”? What has been your experience? If you have walked away from a brainstorming session feeling that there were some good ideas put forward but you sincerely doubt that they can be implemented, you are not alone.

The problem with brainstorming sessions is that many ideas are generated but how many of them are implemented. You see, often people who attend these kind of meetings come up with ideas as a sort of “public relations”. They wish to get noticed. But have they thought through their ideas and will they implement them?

Marketing expert Theodore Levitt once said that you can put a dozen inexperienced people into a room and conduct a brainstorming session that produces exciting new ideas but it will also show you how little relative importance ideas themselves have. “Almost anybody with the intelligence of the average business (person) can produce them, given a halfway decent environment and stimulus. The scarce people are those who have the know-how, energy, daring and staying power to implement ideas.”

As Levitt says, whatever the goals of a business may be, it must make money. “Ideation” and “innovation” are not synonyms, he says. Creativity or ideation deals with the generation of ideas while innovation deals with the implementation. Basically what he’s saying is that you can’t do creativity or ideation for its own sake. It must have a purpose and in a business context that is to ultimately make money.

Let me give you an example about the difference between creativity or coming up with ideas and innovation. I know of a small business owner who provides a service to residential homes, complexes and other high-density residential properties. He has done well with this kind of business but is always hankering to start something different that is more suited to his lifestyle. When we met recently he described to me in some detail an idea for a small business that he wants to start. The problem is he’s come up with ideas like this before and doesn’t implement them.

Then there is a couple who came up with a basic business idea but with a twist. For some people this idea might be laughable and they may scoff at something so innocuous as chocolate energy bars. But this couple in 2014 not only came up with this idea but have implemented it successfully. Their chocolate energy bars are now being sold at various health food and delicatessen retail outlets.

Ideas can be extremely valuable but only so when they are implemented. Ideas do not implement themselves, says Levitt, people implement ideas. Creativity without action-oriented follow through or without ownership of working out the “dirty details” is useless. Detailed plans with practical implementation, assessment of risks, costs, skills and people, time and potential returns make the difference between success and failure.

If you have promising new business ideas but are stuck, unmotivated or simply put sitting on your laurels and doing nothing, then get yourself a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”. Is it really possible for a book like this to help you take your idea and turn it into a viable venture of your own? It’s practical, hands-on advice and step-by-step approach will lead you from mere idea to innovation. But nobody ever did anything successful by merely reading a book. Unless you take action, you won’t achieve anything. If you want a copy, put your name down for the priority notification list. Send your email to be put on the list now.


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