Every driver knows if you don’t put gas in your car it won’t go very far. The same is true for your creative engine. If you are looking for creative solutions, you need to start with a little fuel!

Listen More, Talk Less

You don’t learn anything new when you are do all the talking. You learn when you’re listening. Practice asking good questions, to keep other people talking!

Make an effort to talk to new people, even if the conversation seems completely unrelated to anything you are working on at the moment, your brain will file the information away for use at a later time! So at business events seek out people you don’t know, or chat with strangers on airplanes and on line in the grocery store. You never know what you will learn!

Visit Alien Cultures!

Learn from everyone! Don’t just study the activities of companies like yours. Talk to business owners and visit companies that seem to have nothing in common with your firm. Discover how these “Alien Cultures” address the challenges.

Once a week, read a trade magazine from a completely different industry. “The Heating and Air Conditioning News,” or ” Salon Owners.” As you read, look for at least two things in the magazine that relate to your business or provoke your thinking.

Creative Environments

You can’t force creativity. But you can create an environment to encourages it. In addition to colorful walls, comfortable chairs, and the occasional water gun, create a center with books, magazines, videos, music and technical training items. Encourage employees to spend time in this space to spark new thinking.

And finally, make your “windshield” time productive. If you are often in your car, turn it into an “University on Wheels” by listening to books on CD while you are driving.

Ultimately if you want to think outside the box, get the tools to help you climb out!