Think Strategically - Get Creative

Doing the research, developing a solid strategy, and executing creative tactics can do wonders for your business by opening the door to the goals you have set for yourself.

Success is a journey and you need to create a path for reaching your goals. Say that your goal is to corner the market for high-power green widgets. What steps will you take to make that happen? You will develop tactics to reach short-term goals that will, when taken together, form a strategy to propel you toward your greater goal of supremacy in the high-power green widget market. However, while you are thinking this through, across town, your competitor is eyeing the same prize, fancying himself to be the “King of All Widgets”, and working out a strategy of his own, possibly based on the “King of All Widgets” jingle he’s been shopping around local ad agencies.

This is where creativity comes in. What kind of strategy do you need to achieve your dreams of power green widget dominance? There is marketing and public relations, certainly, but what else do you need to do? It takes a level of creativity to see the problem from all sides and address it on all the levels necessary for success. How will your strategy affect your personnel needs, your manufacturing or fulfillment? What legal issues will you have to handle and do you have the legal counsel to deal with these? You get the point: You have to see beyond the immediate to really grasp all the different aspects of what you have planned and you have to develop plans to deal with those various aspects and that means thinking creatively.

Planning, however, is not where creativity ends. Your execution also has to have some flair. You want to stand out. It is the difference between hosting a barbecue and hosting a street fair, the difference between an e-commerce website and an online community. How do you want people to react to your activities? How do you want them to see you and your business? The same processes that gave you control of all aspects of your plan now have to work to give you control of all reactions that people will have to what you do. Will your actions be well received or will you be vilified? That depends on who is reacting and you have to plan for both, to take advantage of the good reactions and to mitigate any damage done by negative ones and—if you think it necessary—to win the hearts and minds of your detractors.

Creative thinking is really what people are talking about when they use phrases like, “thinking outside the box.” You should, by all means, stand on the box; allow it to be a foundation for what you are doing, but no more than that. It is a starting point to the answer of the age-old question, “What is next?”

Remember, that audience you are playing to is not just the sea of customers you want to drive to your door, it is your competition, the government, your suppliers and business associates, and your own employees. How will the self-proclaimed “King of All Widgets” respond? Will you goad him into doing something rash, or will he remain cool and match you move for move? How will your employees react? Will they go along with your changes or will you have trouble? If there must be layoffs or schedule changes, these can affect morale and performance, so you need a good way to mitigate these troubles as well. Can your suppliers keep up with the changes you want to make or do you need to find new ones, and how will that affect cost? Finally, once you have the high ground in this contest, with everything on your side in order and the competition reacting to you rather than the other way around, how do you keep it?

Doing the research, developing a solid strategy, and executing creative tactics can do wonders for your business by opening the door to the goals you have set for yourself. It works in the military. It will work for you, too.

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