We live in a fast-paced world full of information and choices. We make quick decisions every day because there’s no shortage of them to be made. According to Sam Harrison

“A wealth of information produces a poverty of attention.” 

And I have to agree. Our society works so hard to get ahead that it’s easy to deprive ourselves of certain needs. One of these needs is taking the time to sharpen our skills as professional communicators. And one of the skills our profession requires is creativity. When was the last time you put away your laptop, iPad and iPhone, took a breath of fresh air and focused on being creative?

Last week at the Kansas City International Association of Business Communicators conference, Sam Harrison inspired attendees to be more creative. He defined creativity as a “combination of novelty and value.” He also emphasized that creativity is a choice. We must choose to be creative each and every day.

Sure, we are all busy and try more and more to fit things into our schedules. But choosing to be creative can mean taking a five-minute break from sitting at your desk, or spending 30 minutes on a walk enjoying those things you once appreciated as a child.

Have you ever done a fun brain puzzle that made you think outside the box to solve a problem? Did you know 5 and 6-year-old children solve those sort of puzzles more often than working adults? Harrison showed us a puzzle 98 percent of kindergarteners solved compared to only 8 percent of working adults.

The “Goats on the Roof” example

Yep, you read that right. Harrison shared a great case study about goats on a roof. The rural town of Tiger, Ga., is a pit stop for many tourists on their way to a weekend at the lake. There was a small convenience store that got a lot of traffic because it was easy for visitors to pull in and out of and get back on the road.

As tourist stops increased and the town became busier, a median was added that made the convenience store harder to access. Visitors decreased and so did sales. 

The storeowner could have closed his business. Instead, he decided to put his creative skills to work and do something dramatically different. He revamped the store and christened it Goats on the Roof. It’s still a convenience store, but live goats now adorn the roof.

How many tourists drive past the store without stopping now? Not very many. This clever marketing tactic allows visitors to pay 50 cents to operate a pulley that sends food up to the goats—and kids love it. While there they can pick up groceries and take photos.

This is an example of creativity that definitely worked. Where will your next creative moment take you? One thing is for certain: you can’t get there without choosing to be creative.

Sam Harrison’s five ways to be more creative

  1. Stretch your thinking. Think about different solutions other than the obvious.
  2. Stick with your ideas. Make a point to implement those ideas one at a time; otherwise, you might never do it.
  3. Connect with others in your industry to gain some creative knowledge.
  4. Exchange your ideas and learn from others.
  5. Make a change with your new ideas.

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