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Stop Killing Creativity. 3 Ways to Harness Innovation for Your Guests.

If you love movies like I do, then you have heard the 10% myth.

You know, that old urban legend that says we only use a small percentage of our brain. The myth goes that if we could just bust loose that remaining 90% we would be unstoppable geniuses that could freeze time, write novels in a day, and control the universe. So if you’ve wasted any time on Lucy, Limitless, or Pinky and the Brain, you’ve seen tales woven around what would happen if we used our brains more effectively.

Now these are all nonsense to be sure, and magazines such as Scientific American have debunked this as a plot premise.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t use our brains more effectively to improve the Guest experience. On any given day we are presented with problems and hiccups that must be dealt with and issues that need to be resolved. While process is indeed the great equalizer and allows for consistent service, there are often challenges that require a creative approach to solve. Our capacity to dream, create, and inspire change is something we cannot neglect, as it will pay dividends when you need it most.

Creativity and innovation are the life blood of the Customer experience. Period!

Today’s marketplace begs us to be creative – it looks us in the eye and dares us to delight and amaze. It urges us to push for more and demands to be surprised.

So how to do you drive that amazing innovation in your business? How do you inspire the team to bring you their very best? How do you nurture and fan the flames of smoldering thoughts to ignite into the passion that drives fantastic service?

Here’s How:

Don’t be scared to Make Mistakes. There is no doubt that you have to control the damage, but if you make your team fearful of miscues then you’ll find they will deliver you vanilla work. Vanilla is safe and easy. Vanilla doesn’t pose rise. But vanilla will only delight your Customers for so long. You need to get them to dig deep and try new things. I once had a boss pull me in and tell me that he was tired of seeing me play it so safe.

“Stop pulling the trigger ten times and getting it right ten times,” he said. “Start taking 100 chances a day and get 90 right! That’s more fun for everyone.”

He was right. It was more fun.

Encourage your teams to take chances and experiment. Be sure that we never experiment on Customers, but outside of that, folks should be willing to try new things and take some risks. Encourage your team to share new ideas and reward those who do so, regardless of whether or not the idea is a success. Remember, the idea isn’t to find all winners, but to get the juices flowing. Chances are even the bad ideas will inspire good ones to come along.

Create a Safe Place to Nurture Ideas. Your team is hungry to be able to share their ideas and will appreciate the chance to give them voice. Make your peace with the fact that not all ideas will be amazing. In fact, like we mentioned above, they may start off downright terrible. The magic happens when everyone feels respected and valued enough to give their honest opinions. There are going to be bad ideas and that’s okay – just don’t pretend that they don’t exist. Sometimes you have to be honest with your team and colleagues to make sure that all ideas are valued but honestly evaluated. It should also be true that when ideas are critiqued that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect so that the team doesn’t get discouraged.

Be careful not to confuse respect with placation, because if honesty isn’t present in idea meetings, you’ll find that no one can grow. It might sting for a moment, but in the long run, it will help folks to grow, evolve, and mature.

Promote Robust Communication. When there are lots of rules and everyone is uptight about who talks to who, the creative process just dies. When someone can pick up the phone and excitedly talk to someone about their big ideas without worrying about the org chart, then you are well on your way to success. When I abandoned protocol with regard to sharing ideas throughout my career, I have found my creativity reached new heights. You will find that rules do nothing but bind up a team’s creativity and keep their innovative thoughts from shining through. Allow folks to be open with ideas and share them with everyone.

This not only helps them work in a more innovative fashion, but also speeds up feedback and the ability for colleagues to help move an idea forward by adding their commentary.

There is no silver bullet to creativity except to not get hung up on being right all the time. Make sure that you embrace mistakes, use them to get better, and don’t give up. Make sure that your mistakes don’t impact the Guest experience and that those who are brave enough to share ideas are respected for doing so.

No one likes to be critiqued, that’s a given – but if we all just leave our egos a bit more in check and also make the effort to provide constructive versus destructive feedback, you will find that your organization can absolutely find their innovative flare.

Customers are positively delighted when you deliver on your brand promise every single day – and never allow your service to become stale or stagnant.

Until next time, get those creative juices flowing and treat every Guest like a cherished friend!


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

Check out my FREE Resources and Training Tools: Web: YouTube: Twitter:

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