Why C-Suite Challenges Require More Creative Thinking

What does thinking creatively actually do - and how can we do it better?

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What does thinking creatively actually do - and how can we do it better?


Why C-Suite Challenges Require More Creative Thinking

What does thinking creatively actually do - and how can we do it better?

Share this article

According to our recent research, 37% of C-Suite leaders say a lack of innovative, creative thinking is the top internal barrier to overcoming business challenges.

But what does creative thinking actually entail? And how can business leaders leverage it effectively?

Creative thinking questions the norm and unravels intricate issues through unorthodox and inventive means. By embracing human-centric perspectives and incorporating diverse inputs, it fosters a rich tapestry of ideas and flexible problem-solving methods. It encourages the exploration of a wide spectrum of open-ended and seemingly improbable solutions, empowering brands to stay agile in the face of uncertainty and adversity.

For creative problem solving to succeed, it needs to be applied to all aspects of business: strategy, operations, decision-making, innovation, and culture.

It shouldn’t be confined. Like a bird, it needs to be free to soar to new heights.

Routinely, businesses fall into the trap of sticking to what they know with a fear of taking risks: stuck in the status quo while the world around them keeps changing.

If they don’t embrace change, there’s a high chance they will become irrelevant, as the ever-changing business landscape quickly outmanoeuvres them.

Instead, businesses need to become the driver of change themselves, taking the lead and actively making the most of the opportunities for growth rather than feeling they are at its’ mercy. The ultimate goal has to be to create a creative problem-solving culture, and the C-Suite must lead the charge on this.

Business leaders need to adopt an unconventional process that breaks down widely-held assumptions and challenges the status quo. If you expect your team to come up with ground-breaking ideas while sitting round the board table, then you’re going to be disappointed and you’ll experience that same disappointment at all levels of the organisation.

In a world full of uncertainty and rapid pace of change, now’s the time to step away from boxed thinking.

Embrace the ‘ugly’, and the unorthodox. Embrace creative thinking when facing challenges.

Finding the light at the end of the tunnel

The first step is setting out a long-term vision for your business. Find the light at the end of the tunnel to aim for.

Three quarters of C-Suite leaders believe they are ‘very clear’ on their business mission – and, what’s more, how to deliver it.

Off to a promising start.

But problems arise when leaders are quizzed about the barriers that prevent their business from successfully overcoming its challenges. Almost half (42%) said that having a clearer brand vision, mission, and values would mitigate some of their problems.

So, while three quarters of C-Suite leaders may believe they have a clear vision, the reality of the situation is that many are just paying lip service to one. A definition may exist, but the mission itself isn’t fit for purpose.

It’s just a box ticking exercise.

A clear company vision isn’t just something that can be displayed in reception or on a customer-facing website: it’s not a financial or business target. These are just measures, and they don’t motivate actions.

A clear mission and purpose should guide every action taken by every employee, every single day. It’s a vital tool to drive motivation and smarter decision-making. Without it, random decisions are made due to a lack of direction: sales teams prioritise short-term gains over long-term value, product and marketing teams misalign, and employees in general can feel adrift and uncertain.

A creative way of thinking, one that constantly asks 'why?’, is needed to create a compelling vision rather than a closed mindset that ignores the ugly truth of a world in flux outside the walls of the business.

Adopting this closed mindset means the need for challenging ideas to stay ahead (or even lead change) is often overlooked.

Meanwhile, a more creative approach, which is human-centred and reserves judgement, ensures doors aren’t being closed on those game-changing ideas – even if they’re ugly in their infancy before they are fully formed and explored. Keeping an open mind gives your business the full range of options to overcome the challenges facing it.

Push the boat out a little

The majority of C-Suite leaders say adopting a creative approach to solving problems is risky business.

But how do you define risk? Arguably, not taking risks means not changing, which is even more dangerous in this climate. Creative thinking gives risky ideas the chance to be explored, providing the opportunity to get on the front foot and unlock growth.

Too often, C-Suite leaders are static and reactive: waiting for the challenges to come to them instead of getting out there and addressing them head on.

This just means your business is a puzzle piece in someone else’s jigsaw: you’re not shaping your own picture.

It’s up to business leaders to change their footing, take risk and lead their own destiny. 66% of business leaders agree that such a model is essential for overcoming challenges.

Unlike a jigsaw though, for creative thinking to succeed, you need to start on the inside. C-Suite leaders need to create a culture that celebrates and embraces risk taking (with fail-fast safety valves in place, of course).

That’s where creative thinking can really flourish. When the views of stakeholders come together to create new ugly solutions, this allows businesses to stick their heads above the parapet, define their role and differentiate themselves from the racket and mayhem of the market.

In this modern age, where every day presents a different challenge, only by pushing the boat out a little and adopting a creative approach to problem-solving, can C-Suite leaders adapt and lead their organisations to new heights.

Sarah Dear is CEO of Born Ugly.

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Why C-Suite Challenges Require More Creative Thinking

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