Foster Creativity and Innovation, Companies Told

by WOHe

Foster Creativity and Innovation, Companies

Creativity and innovation are two key elements that
propel businesses to the top. Sadly, however, they are often
missing in companies involved in the kitchen/bath and other
industries, comments a leading business consultant whose client
roster includes some of the best-known companies in the nation.

According to James Feldman, president of the
Chicago-based James Feldman Associates, “Creative ideas are what
turn ordinary companies into market leaders. These companies see
the end result first and then build a path to achieve those

“Unfortunately, in most companies today, neither
creativity nor innovation exists,” Feldman observes. “The corporate
environment fails to foster creative or innovative ideas, which
results in lost profits and opportunities every day.”

Feldman, whose company provides services in
marketing, corporate motivation and problem-solving, advises
business owners to answer the following four questions in order to
learn if their company lacks the necessary creativity and

1. Are your profits stagnant or slowly rising at
2. Are your customers satisfied, but not very loyal?
3. Do your employees lack the enthusiasm to think of new
4. Are you selling the same products and services as you were five
years ago?

“Any answer of ‘yes’ indicates that your business
may not be around for the long-term,” Feldman notes. He offers the
following guidelines for avoiding that fate:

  • Foster a business climate that strives toward
    innovation and creativity.
    “Innovation is the ability to come up with ideas and solutions to
    pressing problems” Feldman says. “It is the process of producing
    something that 1) has value, and 2) did not exist before.
    Creativity is the ability to take that new idea and make it
    valuable in your customers’ eyes.

    “Realize that every problem has a solution, even if the solution
    may not be in plain sight,” Feldman adds. “To make the solution
    more apparent, remove ‘standard operating procedures’ when possible
    and inspire creative thinking throughout the organization. Use
    novel approaches, strive for dramatic results, and reach for the
    highest goal possible. Reward business associates for finding the
    ‘innovative solution’ and for thinking creatively.”

  • Become “number one” with your clients.
    The more satisfied your clients are, the more business your company
    will have in the future, Feldman says. “Realize that the only
    commodity your clients know is you. “Since you are the catalyst
    providing the solution to their problem, you are accountable for
    fulfilling their needs. As a result, you need to invest time in
    continually keeping the channels of communication open,” Feldman

    When communicating, Feldman adds, “Be sure to listen more than you
    talk. Ask questions that solicit more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’
    response, and then truly listen to clients’ responses. Understand
    their needs, and then provide a solution that works for them.

    “Also, thank your clients for their business on a regular basis. A
    simple ‘Thank you; are you happy with our products or service?’
    works wonders,” he says. “The ability to communicate effectively
    could be the greatest innovation you have in your organization,
    since it’s something few people have mastered.”

  • Create a “partnership” with clients.
    All business transactions are based on someone delivering a promise
    to fulfill a specific desire or need, Feldman notes, adding that
    companies promoting their products or services, only to make the
    client wait on hold or have to redial numerous times to lodge
    complaints, erode the partnership.

    “To create a true partnership with clients, become a
    problem-solver,” Feldman advises. “Clients like when the companies
    they work with function as thinkers. Become your clients’ best
    solution and they’ll stay with you for the long-term. Show your
    clients how they will look better, feel better, do their job
    better, or enjoy life better. Show them how you can save them money
    or time. Make the experience one in which clients realize their
    lives would be better with your product or service.”

  • Create a partnership with employees.
    Asking people to be creative and then shooting down their ideas
    creates “a rift” in any company, Feldman points out. “Instead,” he
    says, “show people that bringing their imagination on the journey
    is welcome. We must all become successive producers of ideas,
    concepts, and innovations. We must try them out to see if they
    work; if not, we will lose out to our competitors.

    “Remember that the more offbeat, the more diverse, the more
    eccentric, and the more unusual, the better we learn and the more
    we retain. So allow so-called ‘mavericks’ and their ideas into your
    organization, as they will likely offer a new perspective to the
    same old routine. Listen to your employees as you would your
    clients. Their insights will likely make your company better at
    what it does.”

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