In business we have a number of ways or tools that we use to stimulate improvement. Most of us could recite these in our sleep:
When these things fail, or we realize that perhaps there are better ways to do these approaches, we do next likely thing and hire a consultant. (As a consultant, I am glad that people sometimes take this step).
Each of these steps can be very valuable and powerful when done correctly. There are methods, approaches and steps that you can take to make each of these things (including hiring consultant) more effective.
The problem is first three items on list suffer from a similar problem – they all become too introspective.
Brainstorming too often becomes a short list of ideas that people have considered in past, or things people tried at their last job.
Benchmarking ends up being too incestuous. If you are benchmarking within your industry, everyone in industry is looking at each other, and bar may never be lifted high enough.
Problem solving techniques are only as good as ideas that are found to implement, and where do those ideas come from? Brainstorming and benchmarking.
The alternative is a phrase called creative emulation. I learned this phrase from marketing guru Jay Abraham, who has helped hundreds of companies and individuals improve using this technique and has personally made a fortune using it and teaching it.
It is incredibly simple in concept, and amazingly obvious. But most of us don’t do it often enough.
Creative emulation requires studying other industries and businesses for models and approaches that they use. Then thinking about how you could modify, adapt or “creatively emulate” their successes into your business.
Direct marketers have done this forever. Any good copywriting consultant tells you to build a “clip file” of ads and sales letters that are effective. By keeping this “file” of successful copy, you are able to refer to it for inspiration, ideas, unique phrases and more. The “clip file” is a perfect example of creative emulation.
In leading training sessions, while there is benefit in having a whole group from same organization, there are great benefits from having mixed audiences too – even having people from different divisions or departments in same company can give participants new insights, ideas and practices that they can creatively emulate back in their situation.