At Creative Infusion we promise a joyful surge of belief, ability and passion for creating innovative business solutions and great brands because we believe the right process leads to innovative ideas. Our economy runs on ideas. How you tackle a business problem can lead you to the same tired old ideas or to an innovative new concept and success. I’ve created a unique process that includes many fun tools called u-brand i-brand.
The very first step in creating successful new solutions is to understand the challenge. That’s just part of the u-brand process. Figuring out what opportunity or problem to tackle can be just as daunting as finding ways to improve your business but this is where you must start. Go to Staples right now and buy a flipchart and big pad of paper. Go all out and get the lined stuff and lots of bright markers. This is the start of your creative tool kit. My favorite way to launch into understanding the challenge is with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (S.W.O.T.) session. Yes, you may have done this before – but it’s simple and effective and worth doing on an annual basis. You can do this by yourself but it’s a lot more fun and enlightening if you bring your team together. Don’t think you have a team? If you are a sole proprietor this may seem like a problem but you have suppliers, advisors such as your bookkeeper, people you’ve met networking who know about your business, family and friends. Even good clients would be willing to help. If you can afford it, get an experienced facilitator so that you can fully participate in the process. Get them in a room with coffee and muffins, Coke and candy bars or wine and cheese. Whatever it takes to rev them up. Start by titling a page with STRENGTHS. Open it to the floor and write down everything everyone says are your strengths. Boast and brag, add you own ideas too. Don’t get into discussions or arguments, just get it all out and write it down in short phrases. Now move on to a new page for WEAKNESSES. This can be painful but is necessary. Weaknesses are often opportunities, but it doesn’t really matter where you write it down, but that you get it down. Drink more coffee or wine and head into OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS.
After generating all these opportunities and challenges to consider you need to focus by identifying the most promising opportunities to pursue. You can get your group to help you do this or do it on your own. Working with a group is a lot more fun but this process works for individuals too. Tape all of your flip chart pages up on a wall. Circle what you think are the main issues. Now start to ask questions. You must establish if you can and want to work on these issues.
Here are the questions to help you focus.
1. Can you take action? Is the task one for which you have the responsibility and the opportunity to do something?
2. Do you care? Do you really want to take action on the task or issue?
3. Is it important for you to work on this particular issue? Does it have consequences that are critical in nature for you or others?
4. Is it a problem for which timely action is especially important? Is now the most appropriate time to tackle it? What are we most prepared to work on now? If you do not work on this issue now, what will happen? Will the situation deteriorate or become worse? Might it become more difficult to work on at a future time?
5. What concerns are most pressing or important? What are our priorities? What do we most hope to preserve? What do we most want to achieve or attain?
6. What risks are worth it? What risks are necessary?
Now that you have identified the key opportunities for your business you are well on your way to understanding the challenges and have the foundation for creating ideas and action plans.