Creative accounting is certainly an ill-advised proposition, but in most other areas of business, from manufacturing to marketing to management, creative thinking often represents your most valuable, viable opportunity to differentiate your company from the competition.

Creativity is the key to any innovative idea, product, or service. No matter how large, small, serious, or clever your business objective, approaching it with creativity will almost always deliver more effective results.

With indistinguishable offerings saturating many industries, creativity might even be your most important asset. That's why it's worth examining creativity and what the creative process requires.

Courage

Unknowns can be frightening—and nothing is more of an unknown than creativity.

Committing to creative problem-solving begins with mustering the courage to look at your traditional strategies and common goals in entirely new ways. How could you make a tradeshow exhibit an experience visitors remember? What kind of creative fuel would it take to send your next product launch into orbit?

If these questions seem a bit unnerving, consider that, even at its best, doing the expected will lead only to expected results. Ho hum. You might be satisfied with that reliability, but what about your bosses? Your peers? Your customers?

Creative risk-taking often rewards you in unexpected ways. Surprise your stakeholders with something unique—something they'll truly appreciate and value.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beatty is a senior writer at Larsen (www.larsen.com), a communications design firm with offices in Minneapolis and the San Francisco Bay area.