Shift your creativity into higher gear

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Breeede River, Western Cape
Breeede River, Western Cape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A woman from the UK landed up in the town of Worcester in the Western Cape and decided that she wanted to make the town her home. What ideas do you think she came up with to make an income that would enable to live in this scenic town in South African wine lands? Scroll down to the end of this post to see the answer.

What makes this number unique?


Find out the answer when you scroll to the bottom of this post.

For some people brain teasers like this seem silly or even stupid. Yet the point here is that they show how we are all faced with challenges and need to solve them through creative thinking. The answer to the women who landed up in Worcester in the Western Cape wasn’t solved overnight by her. She would have taken much longer to work out how she was going to make a living for herself, perhaps for many years, compared to the answer to the number poser, which you may have already solved yourself.

Small business owners and would-be start-ups may think that creative problem-solving wouldn’t be high in their list of priorities when starting out. But in the real world of business creative or lateral thinking helps you come up with perhaps several alternative solutions that can optimise your outcomes. This can lead to a healthier business and more profitable bottom line. Creative solutions to challenges can also prevent you going out of business when the going gets tough or circumstances suddenly change and arevery unfavourable.

Here are some real-world problems that I have come across recently. The business people facing these challenges are extremely concerned about them.

– How do I earn an income after the fisheries department has taken away my traditional line fishing licence?
– A competitor has opened down the road from my business and what do I do to prevent them eroding my business?
– I am realising a pittance for my milk from the large conglomerate dairy barons and in the long run I will be forced out of business unless I do something about it?

These problems are all very real for the business people who are faced with these challenges. Yet once they get over the initial shock, they will begin to come up with new business ideas to earn additional income, save their businesses and even perhaps thrive once they have come up with new business plans.

These real-world business problems have many possible solutions. It requires a generative mind to come up with new ideas to solve difficult problems. Out of the ideas that are generated there will be some that will produce better results than others. Some will be practical and easily implementable. Others will be expensive and time-consuming to implement. But without having several options these business people could face the end of the road.

How then can we be more creative and come up with better and more effective solutions to our business problems? Often it merely takes the meeting of two minds. You may want to talk to someone you know who has experience in your industry and together you can come up with brilliant ideas. You may also want to make lists of different ideas rapidly and this may spur your thinking further. Others may use idea generation techniques that may seem artificial but if you need to get the process of idea generation going, it’s a good place to start. Others will rely on the experience, observation and listening skills to come up with new approaches.

In this economy, in these changing times, in this environment with costs spiralling out of control, your competitiveness and even survival can very much depend on the quality of your creative solutions to the challenges that stem from turmoil in your marketplace.

Here are the answers to the brain teasers posed at the beginning of this post:

The women from the UK decided that because she was in Worcester she would come up with a range of Worcester sauces that she would sell locally.

The numbers are in alphabetical order.

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