The Strategist

Why creative thinking is necessary in business

12/15/2017 - 14:16

It is believed that musicians, writers, poets and artists have a great imagination, while scientists, politicians and businessmen are rather realists. But when a businessman can demonstrate as much imagination as a painter, he is doomed to success.

Creative thinking in business

Creative thinking is precious not only to artists. It is equally important in business, because the creative approach helps to solve problems and tasks faster, more interestingly and more efficiently.

Estanislao Bachrach, a Harvard neuropsychologist, believes that one has to develop his own creative potential independently, no matter who he is and wherever he works. Curious and brave people are irreplaceable in any company. They are the one who is able to find non-standard solutions to problems of any level, and they advance up the career ladder first. It is a very useful skill, and we can develop our brain and creative thinking up to a very old age.

Smells that sell

How can you use the human brain and creativity in your work? For example, there are smells that disturb or disgust us. And there are those that are tempting and attracting - usually they are used in aromatherapy. In addition, the olfactory system is directly related to emotions and memory.

Despite the fact that only 1% of the brain participates in the process of smelling, a familiar smell can evoke a memory of the moment when we felt it for the first time. And this memory will revive our emotions at that moment. The marketing world often uses smells of childhood to create an association of a trademark or product with this happy time.

As for business, researchers have revealed amazing facts. For example, the smell of lemon increases the number of orders in fish restaurants, and the smell of pasture and land near dairy products raises sales in supermarkets by revoking the origin of these products and creating the impression of freshness in our minds. The scent of leather is associated with a reward and rest, hence expensive cars or suitcases. In some clothing stores, smell of the sea or the roses and violets fragrance can improve sales. In the field of real estate, potential customers in a house for sale can be tempted with the aroma of freshly prepared cookies. 

Time for insights

90% and even more of the innovative products that we use today are based on ideas born from "ordinary" employees in a non-working environment. Estanislao Bachrach devoted two years to studying innovative companies, met many interesting people of different cultures, countries, languages, industries and positions. And as a result he came to the same conclusion: ideas can arise at any time, but most often they come when we are relaxed.

In probability theory, the more ideas our mind generates, the sooner one of them will turn out to be successful, creative and non-standard. Some call this process a reverse brainstorming session. Thus, it is not productive to urge employees and your own brain to generate ideas within two hours on Tuesday afternoon.

Each of us has one or two places or situations, when consciousness is engulfed by a flood of ideas: when driving, in the shower, before falling asleep, during sports, games, meditation, cooking or bathing, etc. Just start a new notebook. Write names of your projects in the top part of the sheet, and place your ideas under them. 

Right questions

We are taught to respect authority, especially at work, at school or at home. Because of this, we rarely ask the right questions. To achieve a fresh look and develop a curiosity in yourself, you must constantly doubt everything. Make it a part of everyday life.

"Why?" This question helps to understand the present state of things and question the generally accepted opinion.

Why is there always a long queue at the entrance to the cinema? Why do people wait for rain to buy an umbrella? Why do we work 40 hours a week? Why do our competitors bypass us with their new product? Why did they close your favorite TV show?

"What if? .." Helps explore new opportunities. Imagine what will happen to the world, if you change something or implement a new idea.

What if we sell a subscription, not a one-time product? What if the stock exchange grows by 15% in this year? What if the number of policemen in the city doubles? What if our company refuses to meet? What if you lower the age of alcohol sales to 15 years?

"Why?" This question will help to understand limitations and factors that stand in the way of positive changes.

Why do employees of our company do not share contentious ideas? Why not offer customers free car washes if they buy a car from us?


In 2009, Clayton Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, published an interesting study that took six years. It was attended by 3000 top managers and 500 entrepreneurs, whose activities were related to innovation. The scientist made two main conclusions.

Creative people differ from the others by five qualities. They better and more often connect concepts that at first sight are not related to each other (conceptual confusion).

Such people are interested in everything, and curiosity is the basis of any creativity. They have a high level of concentration and attention (intention and attention), watching the outside world and imagining what can be changed in it.

These people experiment without fear of failing, allocating time to find the best solution (pleasure). They also find people different from them, who question their ideas and expand their horizons (perspectives).

based on "The Agile Mind. How your brain makes creativity happen" by Estanislao Bachrach

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