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Be Creative! : For innovation in business… "Think 25"

For innovation in business… ‘Think 25’

By René Da Costa

It is unfortunate that too many businesses start all planning or problem solving exercises with the apocryphal greeting of the Wild West Native American, Hau!

How do I improve profits, how to deliver better service, how can I be more successful, how to motivate employees? Whilst it is a question in need of a definite answer, searching in the wrong place leads to damaging conclusions. Over time this creates an apathy that not only stifles innovation but also damages your reputation and bottom line.

The successful questions used by dynamic organizations, the kind that deliver true innovation are best represented by what we call "think 25". This dynamic strategy has its roots in our common old alphabet. Can you guess what it might be? Give, up? It refers to the most humble 25th letter of our alphabet, Y.

Why you, your employees or your customers want something is far more fundamental to its success that how. If you start with how you will only arrive at the same conclusions as your competitors and that means keeping up with the Jones' at best. Now that might be all you want. Perhaps you don't want to be leading the field? That is your first starter for 10 'why' question.

Do you want to be a leader in your field? Is it important for you to develop a reputation for innovation and excellence? There is no shame in answering no. But consider for a moment why you started in business, what were your ambitions and have they faded over the years? Will you just accept the tarnished reality or would you like a springboard to that original cherished vision? Think about it, if you could recreate that initial drive and ambition with your current hard won business acumen, what would happen?

To those content with the status quo go our best wishes, with a hope that you might follow one-day. We who have reignited our passions have an exciting road before us. The first question for our leading party is where are we going? What will we find when we get there and what kind of journey can we expect? Remember it may be a long road and you must be sure of the benefits each day. So think carefully.

Great, you have some inspired ideas of where you want to go. Time to "think 25". Why do you want to go there, what is your compelling reason for the journey and the destination? If you can't find that reason, you don't really need to go there. Start again, do not pass go and most certainly do not even consider collecting $200 until you have found a compelling destination and reason to go there. Without it you are too likely to give up when the going gets tough.

Forget all thoughts of how you will get there for the moment. How always comes after why? When you know why, how is easy. These days with the proliferation of the Internet and easy access to technical information you can find out how with relative ease. However, technical information provides instruction, it does not inspire loyalty, innovation and motivation.

The first perceived obstacle to your new venture will be the issue of risk; it always is for some reason. Being risk averse is apathy disguised as a risk plan. Fair enough, minimising risk is a sensible strategy, but that is not the same as excluding risk. Remember innovation is about risk Even so, the good news is that "think 25" is inherently risk conscious. When you understand the benefits clearly you are more committed to making it work and you always know how much to gamble.

Our last reason for using "think 25" is key. Wherever you are going you won't get there alone, whether your companions are vision sharing partners or people hired to carry the bags they must be committed to the journey. If your vision is compelling you can persuade others to follow. True, their reasons for doing so will different to yours but the excitement generated by a clear vision is contagious and as a convert to "think 25" you will encourage all to discover their own why. When they do, you will find their vision and drive will feed your own. The circle is complete. •

© 2004 René Da Costa

René Da Costa is an author, consultant and coach. Known as the "think differently" coach he helps you to invigorate your only renewable resource, your brain.

12/4/04