Remember why we entered the Hospitality trade in the beginning? We had that excitement, ardor, and drive – terrific energy and enthusiasm to succeed. But, we became hemmed in by that “box”, where we watched the walls continue to shrink and our thinking became confined, as well. If you do not "think outside the box", you simply will be crated and carted away, bound for oblivion.
When was the last time you had a creative thought? Honestly. Then, what did you do about it? Honestly. One of the most challenging words in English grammar is "why"? And, change always begins with that word. We know the enemies — normal human resistance and inertia. But, if you do not manage change and align your product, service and business processes with the market and customer needs, you simply will not do things better, differently or more effectively.
In this world of marketing and branding, instant messaging and gratification, innovation is a leadership requisite, and those who practice problem solving techniques for those creative breakthroughs are the market leaders, as well. It is really a "mind branding" exercise, where you mobilize creative energies by transforming personal images and metaphors into new ideas, actually presenting Best Practices for the future. This is particularly compelling with the understanding that the customer experience is the key. Successful imaging did not come from a vacuum. It was the creative process at work, and we all have that spark. Let’s take a quick trip through that process.
The first stage is PREPARATION. It is necessary to gather information, research the problem at hand. The process usually commences with a problem to solve. It may address productivity, service, improving customer satisfaction, and the like, usually problem specific. We become aware of what information we are missing and seek answers, until we are almost saturated.
The second phase is INCUBATON. Here we turn away from the problem and continue on with our normal business and let our thoughts and information interact (clash, bang, ricochet) on an unconscious level, like a pin ball machine. We percolate with the mix and the potential! We begin to access and leverage the creativity impulse, the cache for innovation.
ILLUMINATION is the third phase which brings insight. At this point the "ah ha" response is experienced. The hard work of fermenting information results in surfacing an important idea for a solution.
Then we move to the fourth stage, VERIFICATION. This is where you can verify that the information you gathered and the creative problem solving process resulted in a very concrete and logical resolution.
During the creative process we may go from one stage to the next repeatedly, until we have sufficient information and insight to be satisfied with our outcome. The creative process takes courage and fortitude. It requires patience and the willingness to risk being wrong. It is bypassing skepticism and embracing a commitment to excellence. Our guests/customers are more wary than ever, and their demands and expectations are very high. Our staff is more diverse and divergent. It cannot be "business as usual".
Commitment is a character trait of leadership, demonstrating the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism. Creativity will change your present and certainly position you for the future. Innovation moves us all forward. Do more than peek outside your "box"; be audacious. The potential is awesome!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, servicing our clients from offices and resources in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions and helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the National Football League, Avis Budget Group, Madison Square Garden, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit www.LRAworldwide.com.
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