What is the problem? Before you can begin solving problems with creativity you need to know what the problems are. Using a SWOT analysis is one way to start solving your problems. Your weaknesses and your threats are sometimes your biggest opportunities. To generate ideas to solve business problems we all need a starting point. You cannot get to Washington DC if you do not know where you are. So get a good grasp of the current situation before you begin anything.
Learn! Most of my best ideas come when I have an issue in the back of my mind and I watch movies or read books that subject is somewhere in the vicinity of the issue. You never know what can trigger a brilliant idea. One of the great things I have found with our IMC online discussion forum is how many creative ideas I am coming up with just by participating in this course and reading the required readings. I also have worked for a few “learning organizations” throughout my career and I think promoting education and training within an organization can really improve your workforces creativity. You would be surprised how excited people get about their job when they have learned something new in a class or in a book that is relevant to their job. The key is to not stifle that excitement but encourage it.
Brainstorming. Everyone has heard about Brainstorming throughout their career or time in school, because it is a brilliant method to get creative. It is amazing what a group of people what new ideas a group can come up with when working together. If you are not worried about finances or feasibility you can really generate a lot of new ideas. It works really well when you actually put constraints on the group like a time limit or a required amount of ideas. Also, be sure that everyone is fully instructed to think in the best case scenario.
Borrow from the competition. One thing I do if I am in a rush to come up with a creative solution is look at how the competition is solving the creative problem. As a hobby I am a photographer and some of my best ideas have come from trying to emulate the work of someone else. The end product is an evolution of my own style mixed with I see as the best from someone else.
Force ideas. When I worked for a contractor I used to make my employees write down a set number of solutions to a problem not caring how silly those ideas are. Then I would bring them back in the room the next week and have them write down new solutions to the problem. You would be surprised on how they would come up with better solutions the second time because their brains work on those ideas even when they are not at work.
Get out of the box. Another way to get creative is to go somewhere new. Get out of your comfort zone. Go to the air and space museum or to comedy club. Just do something that you would not normally do. In the corporate situation you can get your group of employees to go on a field trip and have a brain storming session at an offsite location. When people are away from the office distractions and can completely focus on an issue, sometimes new ideas can be triggered. When I worked for the Army Corps of Engineers they would have leadership meetings where corporate leaders and up and coming leaders would do meet off site to come up with new ways to improve the organization. These meetings were used to set the direction for the organization for the following year.