Where to Channel Your Creative Energies

Productivity and success are built on hard work, properly directed at your most important and valuable objectives. But there is also room for creativity, even if you’re not working in one of the so-called “creative” industries, professions, or jobs.

All of us possess a certain measure of creativity: the ability to put ideas together in new combinations or come up with entirely new concepts. You can boost your productivity and level of success by directing your creativity into one or more of the following channels:

How You Generate Income

Whether you hold a job, own a business, work at a profession, or do anything else, this is the basic equation by which nearly everyone operates: you provide certain goods or services to others and receive income in return.

While there may seem to be little room for creativity in this formula, the whole exchange is actually chock full of opportunities for innovation: new products and services, new markets, new aspects of value in what you offer, new sources and forms of revenue, new relationships to those you’re working with, and more.

By thinking broadly about the basic exchange (your output in return for income), you may be able to create new opportunities to earn more for your efforts.

How You Connect

In today’s interconnected economy, there’s room to experiment with and polish new ways to synergize your strengths with those of other people and organizations. The simplest model might be outsourcing some of the work you presently perform to a specialist who can do it better, cheaper, faster, and more widely.

But you can also innovate around relationships and interpersonal connections that are intertwined with your technologies, product and service offerings, distribution channels, and other elements that are part of what you do (and would like to do).

Your Process

The normal way you obtain work, break it down into tasks, accomplish those tasks, and push the finished product or service out the door may be working just fine for you. But you may also be able to apply your creativity to tweaking some of the elements in that process, or maybe even entirely revamping parts of it.

Instead of plodding along doing “business as usual,” you could look for creative ways to employ new tools, new methods, new materials, new mindsets, new approaches, and/or new combinations of those things with a view to making your process faster, easier, or better.

Your Output

Whatever product or service offerings you normally deliver, there is almost always room to apply your creativity and transform those offerings into something more interesting, effective, or valuable. 

Think in terms of initiating worthwhile upgrades so whatever you deliver can be different in meaningful ways, including:

  • Bigger or smaller,
  • Less wasteful,
  • Lighter or heavier,
  • More adjustable or simpler,
  • More broadly useful or more narrowly targeted,
  • More commonplace or rarer,
  • More disposable or longer lasting,
  • More interesting and fun,
  • More or less expensive,
  • More valuable,

or whatever other changes might enhance the drawing power and appeal of your output.

Your System

Whatever product or service you deliver, you may want to consider rethinking it not just as it stands on its own, but as one part of a larger “system.”

For a very simple example, think about a person who produces a high-quality, well-designed spatula for outdoor grilling. It’s great on its own. But that spatula might be more useful and valuable as part of a “grilling system” that also includes tongs, a knife, a fork, skewers, and a rotisserie.

Creating additional products or services that complement whatever you’re doing now will expand your output into a broader “system” offering that can catapult you into a far better position and bring you additional opportunities.

You could also think about ways to make your current (or your expanded “system”) output more of a turn-key offering that eases any time, effort, or cost burdens those currently using your product or service must now bear.

Your Follow-On Aftercare

If you have any kind of a continuing relationship (such as guarantees, maintenance, upgrades, revisions, or replacement of consumable supplies) to your products or services after they leave your hands, you’re at least partly in the “aftercare” business. This leaves room for creative opportunities to increase the value of what you offer by improving the follow-on aftercare you provide to those receiving your products or services.

Creative changes to the aftercare you offer can make your existing products, services, or systems more valuable by extending the useful life, adding to the value or utility, or reducing the cost and frequency of “maintenance” or other special attention.

Spend a little time considering and exploiting your opportunities to be creative, and you can greatly improve your level of productivity and success.

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