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职场创意养成大法

是否拥有创造力,更多是依靠训练,而非天赋。因此,创造力是可以通过后天努力获得的。以下就如何获得创造力为你介绍一些可行的方法。

    管理创新交流项目(Management Innovation Exchange)——如果你认为创造力只是少数人——比如那帮穿着标志性黑色高领毛衣、扎着马尾辫的家伙们——的专利,那么你可能想错了。事实上,从CEO到客服代表,与数百个团队一起共事的经历让我们更加相信,采用一些相对简单的方法,任何人都可以想出新鲜而有创意的点子。

    产生创造力的关键在于感知。神经系统学家告诉我们,大脑在不断进化,在这个过程中,大脑通过采用感知性捷径,节约能量。换言之,大脑会把经验转化为固定模式。但是,当大脑接受大量新信息时,会被迫对这些新的体验进行再分类,跳出固有的模式。这恰恰就是创意诞生的时刻。

    我们的创意工坊常常采用四种实用的方法。虽然这些方法不是我们发明的,但我们的确一次又一次地见证了它们的魔力。

1. 亲历亲为

    出人意料的是,我们不要高估事实改变成见的能力。人的大脑非常善于找出支持自己固有世界观的方法,而同时却有意忽略支持相反观点的证据。事实上,相关学术研究表明,对于很多人(包括受过良好教育的人)而言,即使面对与固有观点截然相反的事实证据,他们依然无法让自己轻易地接受。

    要解决这个问题,最有效的方法是亲自体验:亲眼所见或亲身体验能彻底改变一个人的观点,这是坐在会议室里开会讨论无法做到的。我们发现,走出会议室进行激发创造力或创意的训练非常有益,因为这样可以创造亲身体验,直接改变参与者表面或深层的臆断。

    下面这个案例就是证明。我们的一个客户、一家动物保健药品公司计划进军中国市场。我们花了数天时间来评估中国市场的情况,但是在研讨会结束时,客户仍没下定决心。因此,我们带客户亲自考察中国市场,参观了奶牛场、加工工厂、零售门店等相关环节。这次考察也让他们清楚地认识到在中国市场发展的不同之处、将会遇到的难题及复杂程度,而这些都是坐在会议室讨论幻灯片所无法体会到的。例如,他们了解到,和美国的销售人员相比,中国骑电动车的销售员无法运送所有必需的设备。

    无论是了解客户,还是开拓新市场,这个方法都同样奏效。最基本的一条建议是:走出办公室。把自己当作顾客,调查、比较、购买和使用自己的产品。细心观察:在顾客购买和使用产品的场所,与尽可能多的真实客户交谈,做好记录,多拍照片。

2. 打破常规

    另外一个打破常规思维的方法,是对某些公司(甚至于行业)内根深蒂固的常规进行研究。所有公司都有自己的行规:如“行事方式”的惯例、或关于客户需求的无争议推断、或鲜有人质疑的 “基本”战略要素等。

    一旦认清并挑战这些既定观点,公司就能试着接受新的观点,随之而来的成功也将带来巨大的回报:例如,2001年,百思买集团(Best Buy)斥资300万美元,收购了计算机维修服务公司Geek Squad,打破了顾客不愿意为上门安装设备付费的传统观念。时至今日,Geek Squad年创收达20亿美元。同样,当年戴尔(Dell)的在线直销模式独霸业界,苹果(Apple)却另辟蹊径,创建了零售渠道,苹果的策略当初一样曾遭到诸多分析人士的质疑。

    有时,外部因素也会激发变革。经济衰退促使味好美五香粉公司(McCormick Spices)打破了内部传统观念——从一家调味品制造企业升级并重新定位为健康经济膳食专家。通过向公众宣传推广各色香料的营养和健康价值,味好美发起了“3美元膳食”的倡议活动——无需推出新产品,就能帮助顾客对饮食开支精打细算,这种做法同样不失为一种创新。

    为了打破公司的内部传统观念,各公司需要自省涉及客户、行业规范乃至公司商业模式的问题。例如:我们从事的业务是什么?消费者期望获得何种水平的客户服务?消费者最不愿意为什么样的产品买单?然后,给自己提出问题:上述哪些问题扼杀了公司的创新能力?

3. 运用类比

    在对3,000名富有创造力的高管进行长达六年的调查中,杰弗里•代尔、哈尔•葛瑞格森和克莱顿•斯汀生发现,创新者普遍具有五大探索技能(discovery skills):联想、质疑、观察、试验和举一反三。其中,最强大的技能是联想:即把“看似毫不相关的疑问、问题或观点”相互联系起来的能力。

    以下问题可以作为探索的开端。

    • 如果让谷歌(Google)来处理我们的数据,它会怎么做?

    • 如果让迪士尼(Disney)来负责我们的客户,它会怎么做?

    • 如果让美国西南航空公司(Southwest Airlines)来负责压缩我们的预算,它会怎么做?

    • 如果让飒拉(Zara)来重组我们的供应链,它会怎么做?

    • 如果让喜达屋国际酒店(Starwood Hotels)来设计我们的顾客忠诚度项目,它会怎么做?

    • 如果让苹果公司来简化和整合我们的产品和服务,它会怎么做?

    我们把这个方法应用于一家全球信用卡公司,结果非常奏效。他们给出的部分答案如下:

    • 苹果公司不会发行10张信用卡;它只会发行1张,而这张信用卡可以与其他类银行服务全面整合

    • 迪士尼会把消费者当成“贵宾”,并让来宾产生宾至如归的感受

    • 通过为消费者提供建议以及回访,亚马逊(Amazon)帮助消费者制定合理的信贷决策

    • 喜达屋会奖励顾客的“良好”行为(如按时付费),而大多数信用卡公司则会通过增加信用额度和提供更多积分,对“不良”行为进行“奖励”(收取更多的手续费)。

4. 增加限制条件

    从直觉上看,通过增加限制条件来激发创意似乎毫无道理。但是根据我们的经验,需求是“发明之母”。人为施加限制条件会使常态下毫无难度的事情为之一变使人产生某种强烈的需求。

    那么,就从以下设想的情境开始吧,

    • 只能通过互联网与顾客互动。

    • 只能服务一种类型的顾客。

    • 产品价格必须削减一半。

    • 必须对自己的产品收取五倍的价格溢价。

    创造力并不是少数幸运儿的天赋,通过恰当的训练、有效的方法,所有人都能具有创造力。赶快试试这些方法吧,同时别忘了告诉我们效果如何。

    玛勒•M•卡波奇,波士顿麦肯锡公司(McKinsey & Co)高级专家。蕾妮•戴,亚特兰大麦肯锡公司的高级专家。艾米•豪,洛杉矶麦肯锡公司的合伙人。

    译者:富来细特/乔树静

    (Management Innovation eXchange) -- If you think creativity is the province of a privileged few -- the proverbial black turtleneck and pony tail crowd -- think again. Our work with hundreds of teams, from CEOs to customer service reps, has convinced us that a few relatively simple techniques can help anyone generate new and creative ideas.

    The key is to focus on perception. Neuroscientists tell us that as our brains evolved, they learned to take perceptual shortcuts to save energy. In other words, they stuff experiences into well-worn patterns. But when we bombard our brains with new information, our brains are forced to re-categorize these new experiences and move beyond old patterns. That's when we come up with new ideas.

    In our creativity workshops we apply four practical techniques. We didn't invent them, but we have seen their power again and again.

1. Immerse yourself

    Surprisingly, you shouldn't overestimate the ability of facts to change people's minds about what is and isn't possible. The human mind is surprisingly adroit at finding ways to support its deep-seated ways of viewing the world, while sifting out evidence to the contrary. Indeed, academic research suggests that even when presented with overwhelming facts contrary to their deeply held opinions, many people (including those who are well educated) simply aren't persuaded.

    The antidote is personal experience: Seeing and experiencing something firsthand can shake people up in ways that abstract discussions around a conference room table can't. We find it extremely valuable to start creativity-building exercises or idea-generation efforts outside the conference room, setting up personal experiences that directly confront participants' implicit or explicit assumptions.

    This was the case with an animal-health pharmaceutical client that was considering expanding to China. We spent days reviewing facts about the opportunities there, but at the end of the workshop they were no closer to a decision about whether to enter that market. So we took them to China, visiting dairy farms to processing plants to retail outlets. Their visit brought to life all the differences, difficulties, and complexities of competing in China in a way that PowerPoint slides never could. For example, they learned that scooter-riding sales representatives wouldn't be able to haul all the equipment that their American counterparts could.

    This works when it comes to understanding your customers as well as exploring new markets. The basic advice is the same: Get out of the office. Go through the process of researching, comparing, buying, and using your own products and services as a customer would. Observe closely: talk to as many real customers in the places they buy and use your products. Take notes. Take pictures.

2. Overcome orthodoxies

    Another way to jolt your brain out of the familiar is to explore deep-rooted company (or even industry) orthodoxies. All organizations have them: the conventional wisdom about "the way we do things," for instance, or the unchallenged assumptions about what customers want, or an "essential" element of strategy that's rarely, if ever, questioned.

    By identifying and then challenging these kinds of beliefs, companies can learn to embrace new ideas. The rewards for success can be massive: Best Buy's (BBY) $3 million acquisition of Geek Squad in 2002, for example, went against the conventional wisdom that said consumers wouldn't pay extra to have products installed in their homes. Today, it's a $2-billion-a-year business. Likewise, some analysts chided Apple (AAPL) for opening a retail network at a time when Dell's (DELL) online direct sales model appeared supreme.

    Sometimes external forces spark the change. The recession led McCormick Spices to challenge its internal orthodoxy that it was a spice manufacturer and position itself instead as an enabler of healthy and affordable meals. By emphasizing the functional and health benefits of exotic spices, McCormick was able to launch a campaign promoting meals under $3 -- an innovation that required no new products but helped its customers stretch their food budgets.

    To overcome orthodoxies in your company, ask yourself questions about your customers, industry norms, and even your business model. For example: What business are we in? What level of customer service do people expect? What would customers never be willing to pay for? Then ask yourself, which of these are stifling your ability to do new things?

3. Use analogies

    In testing and observing 3,000 creative executives over a six-year period, Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen noted five important discovery skills common to innovators: Associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. Of these, the most powerful was associating: asking people to make connections across "seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas."

    A list of questions like the ones below can serve as a jumping off point.

    • How would Google (GOOG) manage our data?

    • How might Disney (DIS) engage with our consumers?

    • How could Southwest Airlines (LUV) cut our costs?

    • How would Zara redesign our supply chain?

    • How would Starwood Hotels (HOT) design our customer loyalty program?

    • How might Apple simplify and integrate our products and services?

    We used this technique effectively with a global credit card company. Some of the conclusions they drew were:

    • Apple would not offer 10 credit cards; it would offer one that fully integrated with other banking services

    • Disney could treat consumers as "guests" and make them feel welcome when they called

    • Amazon (AMZN) would help consumers make smart credit decisions through referrals and tracking of behaviors

    • Starwood would reward "good" behavior (like paying on time), whereas most credit card companies actually reward "bad" behavior (that is, charging more) by increasing your credit limit and awarding more points

4. Create constraints

    Imposing constraints to spark creativity may seem counterintuitive. Our experience, however, is that necessity is the mother of invention. Imposing artificial constraints injects some much-needed stark necessity into an otherwise low-risk exercise.

    Start by imagining a world in which

    • You can only interact with your customers online.

    • You can only serve one type of consumer.

    • The price of your product is cut in half.

    • You have to charge a 5x price premium for your product.

    Creativity is not a trait reserved for the lucky few -- with a little discipline and a few practical approaches, it's accessible to all. Try these techniques and tell us how they worked.

    Marla M. Capozzi is a senior expert at McKinsey & Co. in Boston. Renee Dye is a senior expert at McKinsey in Atlanta. Amy Howe is a McKinsey partner in Los Angeles.

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