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Business Creativity & Innovation

Enhancing Creativity – 10 Phrases To Avoid

This brief list is distilled from a very long list of phrases gathered over many years. Each phrase is given along with comments on its appropriateness and potential underlying meanings. If you hear these uttered then a warning bell should sound inside your head. These are all potential blocks to personal and organisational Creativity.

1. We tried that before
Well yes you might have done but were the circumstances the same and what happened exactly? Perhaps whatever you did was not executed correctly or you did not have the right skills? This is a phrase usually uttered by someone who has a vested interested in doing things in one particular way or who dislikes change. Try saying “When we tried this previously we got these results, how can we improve on this?”

2. That’s not my job
Maybe not, but if you are looking to the future then it may currently be nobody’s job. Again a phrase uttered by those who dislike change in their personal workspace or who simply want more money. If you are trying to get someone to behave differently then point out the advantages to a) themselves b) the organisation (in that order).

3. We don’t have the time
Time always gets filled with something so it really is a question of what is more important. Are you looking to the future, do you have your backs against the wall? What is the result if you do NOT do this?

4. It’s too radical a change
The word radical has to be taken in context. Any step towards where you wish to go has to be good. There will be repercussions though and if sufficient research is carried out, any unwanted effects can be minimised. This is a phrase uttered by the risk averse.

5. The staff will never buy it
Who said this? Someone is attempting to predict what a group of people will say. Taken at face value, it is a reason not to proceed, but try asking your staff. Likely to be uttered by those opposed to change.

6. Let’s get back to reality
What is reality when thinking about the future? If you want to maintain the status quo then fine, but if you wish to improve things then you will have to dream a little (of new products) or try to predict the marketplace.

7. Let’s give it more thought
This is used as a political gambit to bury ideas or by those who prefer talk to action. The ONLY reason an innovation project can fail is through inaction.

8. Let’s form a committee
A way of gathering like minded people together to oppose an idea! Cynical perhaps, but committees with the best intentions often slow things down. Empower people to DO things and co-opt others if necessary.

9. It won’t pay for itself
Does it have to? What is the cost of not taking a course of action? It may cost $10000 and only make $5000 but what if it prevents the company from going bust? Cost, like benefit can be measured in many ways.

10. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Only if you wish to get the same results all the time. Broke is like cost, dependent on context. A system can have worked well in the past, but if the future is different from the past then your system could well be ‘Broke’ sooner than you think. This is often used by those who have actually invented the ‘Unbroke’ systems.

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