But what happens when creatives run into roadblocks? It’s sure to happen, as it does with everyone.
Maybe it’s just not possible to see something different. Maybe you’ve been focusing on a problem for so long, it becomes impossible to see it in any other light.
So, what to do in these situations?
I recommend trying to change your perspective.
Consider this: A friend of mine who does needlepoint has a design that’s mostly black. But she decided she wanted to create something different, without losing her “signature” touch.
So rather than simply stitching the design on a white canvas with black thread again, she decided to use a black canvas, and stitch the negative aspects of the design instead of the positive.
She changed the way she viewed the problem, and now has a really cool-looking needlepoint design that’s different from most others out there.
Here’s another example: An art teacher wants her students to learn how to see art as shapes, to broaden the scope of their abilities. So, she has her students turn a photograph or object upside down and paint what they see—not the picture as it is exactly, but an arrangement of shapes.
By changing your perspective, you change what you see. And when you change what you see, you’re more likely to create something completely different.
But—I can hear you now—this applies to art. Right? How could it possibly help you with your business problem?
Okay, so this next example is from Michael Michalko’s book, Thinkertoys.
Back in the 1950s, experts proclaimed that the ocean freighter industry was dying. Costs were skyrocketing, and delivery times kept getting pushed back later and later.
Executives at the shipping companies kept focusing on ways to cut costs while ships were sailing. They developed ships that went faster and needed fewer crew members to man.
Except it didn’t work. Costs continued to spiral out of control, and it still took too long to get the merchandise shipped.
Then one day, a consultant changed the perspective. He changed the question.
Rather than ask “In what ways might we make ships more economical while at sea?” he asked, “In what ways can we reduce costs?”
Ships are big money-sucking machines when they aren’t at sea actually shipping merchandise. And when aren’t they working? When they’re sitting in the port being loaded and unloaded.
So, they came up with a way to preload merchandise on land. Now, a ship comes in, the container carrying the cargo rolls off, a new container already loaded with cargo rolls on, and the ship heads right back out to sea.
That one innovation saved an entire industry! And it happened because shipping executives changed the way they viewed their problem.
Check out the following exercise to help change yours.
Creativity Exercise — Change Your Perspective
So, back to your business: how can you change your perspective and solve your business/marketing problems?
Try what the shipping industry did—change the question.
Instead of looking at a singular part of the problem (“In what ways can we make ships more economical while at sea?”) broaden the question (“In what ways can we reduce costs in general?”).
Here’s another example:
The problem/question: “How can I land more clients?”
The broadened questions:
How can I grow my business?
How can I make more money from my business?
How can I make more money period?
How can I be happier in my life? (I know, I know, money doesn’t buy happiness. But it’s certainly nice to have.)
Maybe one of those questions is a better place to look for a solution. Because maybe one of those questions is the “real” question you want to solve, but since you never took a step back to look at the big picture, you never discovered the right question to ask.
And if you don’t ask the right question, your muse will never give you the answer that actually solves your problem.
For more on how you can change your business and your life by changing your perspective, check out my “Love-Based Money and Mindset” book.