Nir Bashan is the founder and CEO of The Creator Mindset LLC, where he teaches business leaders how to harness the power of creativity to improve profitability, increase sales, and make work more meaningful. His clients include AT&T, Microsoft, Ace Hardware, NFL Network, EA Sports, and JetBlue. His creative work has been recognized with a Clio Award and an Emmy nomination. His new book is “The Creator Mindset: 92 Tools to Unlock the Secrets to Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability“.
We speak with Nir Bashan about the role of creativity in business.
In what ways are business leaders discouraged from using creativity?
Business leaders are discouraged from using creativity because we have been drilled in analytics and logic from a very young age. We are discouraged from using creativity, and instead encouraged to use numbers and analytics and data to help define our world.
It starts subtly at first and then grows into a roaring crescendo. When we were young, a cardboard box looked like a castle or a fortress or a time machine. Yet today, that same cardboard box looks like, well, a cardboard box. We have lost our way to tap into our imagination–at horrible ramifications. When a business problem presents itself in a way that analytics cannot solve, we choke. We stumble. We fail. And that is why we so badly need creativity in business as we struggle to stay alive in this COVID-19 day and age.
Why do you describe creativity as a tool?
Creativity is a tool just like anything else in business. It is like a CRM or a piece of equipment or a status report. We just need to learn how to use it as we do so many other business tools. And here’s the secret, that’s not really a secret but we can call it one if we want: Anyone can learn how to be creative. It starts with remembering that voice inside us from childhood that tells us what we need to do. Our gut sense is creativity yearning to get out and help us solve that problem, which could be, oh say, the inventory stacking up right now in the Toledo warehouse.
Can someone drilled in analytics and logic begin to train their mind to think in a creative way?
The answer is a resounding yes! YES! Shout it from the rooftops. It’s time to stop wondering why our best laid plans go to waste. It’s time to stop wondering why our best efforts are not happening the way we want it to. It’s time to stop wondering why we cannot get our business or careers to where they need to go. It is because we are not using our full mind to attack the problem—and unite our thinking into one super computer capable of balancing both the creative and analytical parts of our mind.
What are some tangible and bottom-line benefits of applying creative solutions to business problems?
The first tangible I see while consulting with companies to help improve their creativity is in sales. I see tangible success here quickly. What ends up happening is that the sales pipeline gets redefined not by analytics because that’s what the pipeline was already defined by and thus got as far as it could go. But I see the pipeline beginning to get defined by creativity. When applying the fundamentals of creativity, the pipeline begins to take on a new life. There is no question that is not worth asking. There is no stone left unturned. And through that process, we begin to awaken permission to fail. Permission to explore. Permission to grow. And with a heaping of creativity at every step, whether it’s exploring new billing models or a different approach to proposals.
How can embracing and practicing creativity make you a better person as well as a better leader?
Embracing the principles of The Creator Mindset will help you become a better leader. They are anchored in principles that essentially cost nothing. Not one penny. ut here’s the thing: Not practicing them can cost you everything.
Cornerstone creative principles like empathy, courage, listening, and humor have a wonderful altruistic impact as well as improving sales and revenue potential — they just might make you a better person, too. Because when you learn to think with your entire brain — your full thinking potential — you learn that there are no boundaries that will stop you from getting where you need to go.