Creative thinking

Decisons, decisons

Do you like making decisions?

By Business, Creative thinking, Learning, Psychology, Success No Comments

Are you good at making decisions? Do you tend to make the right decisions, in your personal and professional lives? Do you like making choices?

I have been thinking about this subject, following a series of conversations with The Marketing Compass member and decision making speaker David Knowles-Leak.

We all have to make decisions, every day of our lives. Most decisions are minor in nature (which shirt shall I wear?) whilst some decisions are of crucial importance (shall I propose?)

When I am selling, I sometimes wonder why it can take so long for people to get back to me. I have come to the conclusion that many people like to reflect on a decision, before they take it (or avoid doing so). Or perhaps they are inundated with more pressing matters?

When it comes to marketing, there a host of decisions that need to be made. For example, are we product or customer centric? How much time and money should be devoted to marketing? Will everything be done in-house or will some of it be outsourced? How important is digital marketing? Will we use a push or a pull marketing strategy?

Personally, I tend to make decisions quickly. For example, when I am buying something, I know what I want. When I find it, why not cut to the chase and buy?

I make a lot of decisions and I always talk through the big ones (and many of the smaller ones as well) with my wife, Joanna. We often do this when we go out for a walk, which helps me to think clearly.

As far as I am aware, decision making is not taught as a separate subject in schools. Bearing in mind how important it is, perhaps it should be?

Should creativity be measured?

By Creative thinking, Success No Comments

In our metrics obsessed culture, should creativity be measured? After all, virtually everything else is, isn’t it?

What would happen if we measured the number of creative ideas that were produced each month?

What would change if we measured the number of failures and celebrated high number of these? After all, it is well established that success and failure go hand in hand. If you are not failing, you are not doing enough.

During a creative thinking speech entitled ‘Are you Wired for Creativity?’ yesterday for Community Housing Cymru in Swansea, I was talking about the need to allow space and permission for creativity within marketing departments.

New ideas are important as they feed innovation. Standard marketing metrics are all well and good. However, success in a fast-changing environment requires new ideas on a continual basis.

Making creativity part of company culture

By Creative thinking, Learning, Psychology, Startups, Success No Comments

William Bernbach, one of the three founders of the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), once said: “It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors.”

During the 20 years that I have taught creative thinking, there have been fundamental shifts within our civilisation. For example, the rise of low cost distributed computing is perhaps best epitomised by the launch in 2007, by Apple Inc of the iPhone, one of the first smartphones to include a multi-touch interface. Apple is a hot bed of creative thinking and in May 2017 became the first US company to hit US$800 billion in value.

Globalisation, intense competition and the disruption of entire industries are now part of daily life. Underneath these dramatic changes, human beings are the same. The desire to be creative resides in all of us.

Creativity in its many forms outside of the work place is a good thing. Whether it belongs in the office environment is another question entirely. Some would say that creativity in business is OK for computer game producers, architects, advertising agencies and the like. I believe that it gives every organisation, regardless of size the edge within a fast changing environment. Making creativity a part of company culture will give you a competitive advantage, motivate staff and help to increase turnover and profitability.

A client asked me recently: “How can we make creativity part of everyday office life?”

Here is my response:

* Nominate a company (0r department) Creative Thinker each month.

* Buy some creative thinking books and leave them lying around the office.

* Use a creative thinking technique, such as Mind Mapping, the next time you encounter a problem.

* Take a walk with the people who are tackling the problem and discuss it as you move.

* Share creative thinking stories with each other.

* Talk about creative thinking during business meetings.

* Put up some creative thinking posters in the office.

* Mention creative thinking within internal newsletters.

* Blog about creative thinking.

* Let your customers know that you enjoy using creative thinking techniques.

* Share interesting creative thinking articles, stories, cuttings and books with your colleagues.

* Count the number of new ideas that your company / department generates each month and display the number where everyone can see it.

* Get senior management involved.

* Share creative thinking quotes around the office.

* Once a year, have a creative thinking away day.

* Ask non competitors to share their approach to creativity with you (and return the favour).

* Try using creativity software.

* Use creativity ice breakers to get meetings started.

* Invite artists, engineers, architects, authors and professors to talk about creativity.

* Announce an annual award for the best creative thinker within your organisation.

* Tell the media what you are doing.

* Never stop experimenting and learning.

What other ideas could you add to this list?

Nigel Temple is a creativity speaker and trainer. He delivers engaging creativity talks and creative thinking workshops for audiences of all sizes, anywhere in the world.


Differentiation: How to stand out from the crowd

By Creative thinking, Marketing strategy, Success No Comments

As a human being – you are unique. You are one of a kind amongst billions of human beings.

Think of your business in this way. What is special about it? What makes it truly different from your competitors? The business guru and author, Michael Porter, says that there are only two fundamental business strategies: Low Cost and Differentiation.

For example, there are many retailers out there who promote low prices. This is fine – as long as they can sustain low costs. However, many new retailers focus on low low prices and go out of business fast fast fast.

The other fundamental strategy, is ‘differentiation’.  Another way of saying this is: ‘Standing out from the crowd’.

The first question to ask is – what is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

This was a term coined by Rosser Reeves, the copywriter who eventually ran the Ted Bates advertising agency in New York. Once you know your real USP, there are many things which you can do to make your enterprise stand out from the crowd.

Here is one way in which you and can figure out your USP. Set aside half a day to do this exercise. Gather together a team of people to help you.

You will need lots of large sheets of paper. Start by writing down the answer to the following question:

Why do our customers buy our products / services?

If your team is familiar with Mind Mapping, this would be a great way of capturing their answers.

As the session progresses – your job as facilitator is to use the Socratic method of probing deeper and deeper to find out the real reasons why people buy from you. Socrates would never accept the first answer which people gave him. He kept on saying, “Yes – but why is this the case?” If you do this in a consistent, non-confrontational way, you will be amazed at what your team comes up with.

You need to deepen the enquiry to cover all of your products and services in all of the vertical, geographic and other markets which you sell to.

The second half of the session asks the question:

Why do companies buy from other sources?

Step three is to cancel out the ideas / answers which are the same for your company and the competition.

At the end of the session – the answers which remain for your enterprise will reveal your true USP. If you don’t have one – this is the time to start thinking about creating one.

Once you have decided what your USP is, distil the answers into one single corporate USP. Your mission is to then tell your prospects and clients about it.

Keep educating them about why you are so special.  Once you’ve told them – tell them again.

Written by Nigel Temple, marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author.

The Default Mode Network and human downtime

By Creative thinking, Learning, Longevity, Psychology, Spirituality, Success No Comments

You have around 100 billion brain cells (neurons). Each of these neurons has about 7,000 inter-neuronal connections. Estimates differ for adults, but your brain has about 250 trillion connections.

The Default Mode Network (DMN) comprises a network of interacting parts of the human brain. When you not working and not ‘doing’, the DMN lights up.

I have meditated since I was in my 20s. I find that it makes me calmer. It helps me to find new ideas which would not have materialised during my busy life (we have four children, one house, one garden and I am self employed, amongst other things).

I have found that mediation connects me to a different way of thinking – as opposed to the frenetic ‘beta brainwave state’ that drives the business world and much of Western civilisation*. When you are in beta, your logical left brain is active as well as your critical abilities.

Technology (which I love) is often to blame, for all of this ‘busyness’. Who invented email? Who invented smartphones? Who invented social media? Many of us spend a considerable proportion of our time staring at screens of different sizes, trying to keep on top of it all.

Would it be a better world if we all slowed down a bit?

By the way, the DMN is active when you are planning for the future. Imagining a positive, interesting and engaging future is time well spent.

The Dalai Lama once said that the busier he gets, the longer he spends meditating. (Have you noticed how much he laughs?)

Tony Buzan sparked my interest in the human brain. My office was across the corridor from his, for five years. I learned a great deal from Tony and he included one of my Mind Maps within one of his books.

* Interviewer: “What do you think of Western civilisation?”
Mahhatma Gandhi: “I think it would be a good idea.”

Nigel Temple is a creative thinking trainer / public speaker.


Positioning your brand

By Branding, Creative thinking, Marketing strategy, Psychology No Comments

You may be a one woman or one man business. Or you may have staff, multiple offices and operate in one country or all of them. Regardless of the size of your organisation and whether it is B2C to B2B: every enterprise has a brand.

A key element of branding is market positioning. How do your customers perceive your brand? What do they think you do? What do they think of your business? How do they feel about your brand? If I rang some of your customers and asked them these questions, what would they say to me?

How should you position your brand?

For example, should you go upmarket or travel downmarket? Should you be seen as reasurringly expensive or as cheap as chips?

Are you focused on customer service, product excellence, price or something else? These are strategic business and marketing decisions. Every decision that you make affects your market positioning.

Your actions speak louder than words, when it comes market positioning. Every time that your customers engage with your brand, their perception of your market positioning is either affirmed or challenged.

Besides products and services, a key issue is human interaction.

You can buy a great product and feel let down by the way that you have been treated.

It is of no use to simply do what your competition does, positioning wise. The majority of businesses in any given sector appear to be clones of each other.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

It order to decide on your positioning, you need to think deeply about your business and what it stands for. You need to consider the space in the market that your brand operates within.

It is a worthwhile exercise to produce a strategic plan and I offer a marketing plan in a day service.

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Packaging and selling your knowledge

By Business, Creative thinking, Learning, Psychology, Success No Comments

how-to-sell-your-knowledgeHow long have you been working? How long have you been doing what you currently do? How many employers have you worked for? How many customers have you served?

Are you currently unemployed or are you fed up with your current job? If you are self employed or a business owner, are you looking for additional revenue?

For 30 years, since I started my own business, I have done two things: A) Kept learning. B) Relentlessly packaged and sold my knowledge.

Do you like lists? I hope so, as here is some homework:

1). Within your area of professional expertise think about the problems that people have. Write them down.

2). Write down a list of the problems that you have solved, during your career.

3). Now write a list of your competencies. Are you a writer? Do you have software skills? Are you a manager or a leader? Are you an organiser? Are you good with people? What other skills do you have? Think of as many as possible.

4). Now create a list of the projects, technologies, systems and processes that you have worked with.

5). Create a list of the business activities that you enjoy doing the most; in addition, list the things that you definitely don’t like doing.

6). Compare the lists that you written: can you see any business opportunities there?

There are many ways to package your knowledge including consultancy, coaching, e-books, mentoring, public speaking, published books and training. Do any of these appeal to you?

Packaging and selling your knowledge takes confidence and writing ability. Why writing? Because you can let the search engines do the hard work of bringing customers to you. As someone who spent years banging on doors for Rank Xerox in his 20s, I can tell you that getting customers to come to you is much better than the other way around.

I work with independent professionals, small businesses and enterprises that are interested in packaging and selling their hard won knowledge. If you would like to find out more, you are welcome to email me via or call me on +44 (0)1628 773128.

The Marketing Mindset – 7 keys to success

By Creative thinking, Marketing strategy, Success No Comments

Does your organisation have a ‘Marketing Mindset’? Ask yourself and your colleagues this question: “Are we sales driven or customer focused?” There is nothing wrong with selling. However, sales will come more easily if you have a marketing orientated culture. Below the Mind Map, you will find 7 keys to success…



The Marketing Mindset – 7 keys to success

1. Create a concise, written marketing plan. This should be separate from your business plan. “Strategy first, action second.”

2. Put the customer at the heart of your business. See your business from your customers’ perspective. Revolve around customers and their needs.

3. Think about how you can best spend your ‘marketing time’. Having worked with over 3,000 enterprises, I can tell you that this is the key to standing out from the crowd. Don’t just do what everyone else in your industry does. Be imaginative. Stretch yourself. Be creative.

4. In increasingly competitive marketplaces, people are a significant differentiator. On this basis, get your customers involved in your marketing. For example, request testimonials, ask for customer feedback, write case studies and conduct audio interviews. Film customer interviews and post them within your YouTube channel.

5. Get management and staff involved, particularly customer facing staff (they know what the customers are saying and what they like / don’t like). Your colleagues can help you to power your marketing campaign with ideas, stories and customer engagement. With encouragement and feedback, social media training can create positive brand awareness and new business relationships.

6. Your brand = your future. Think about your reputation capital and how you can continually improve this.

7.  In an increasingly digital economy, there is plenty of scope for improving an enterprises’ digital marketing strategy. For example, by using the Digital Marketing Circle.

If you feel that you would like some help with your marketing strategy and plan, either email me or call +44(0)1628 773128. I will listen without interrupting and give you ideas, feedback and options.

Create a marketing plan in a day with Nigel Temple.

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Leonardo da Vinci and the case for curiosity

By Creative thinking, Learning, Longevity, Psychology, Spirituality, Success No Comments

leonardo-da-vinci-vitruvian-manDo you like asking questions? In a meeting, are you known as someone who asks lots of questions? Or are you content to sit and listen?

I am often surprised by the questions that people ask me. Sometimes, I am concerned that they don’t ask enough of them.

Leonardo da Vinci lived by seven principles:

Curiosity: continually ask questions and have a thirst for knowledge.

Demonstration: show me how it works; test your knowledge.

Sensation: be aware of your senses.

Smoke: embrace uncertainty.

Art and science: whole brain thinking.

The body: mens sana in corpore sano  (a sound mind in a sound body).

Connection: everything is connected to everything else.

In the 21st century, it seems to me that da Vinci’s principles have never been more relevant.

“I awoke, only to find out that the rest of the world was still asleep.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Image courtesy of Wikipedia / Gallerie dell’Accademia Venice. Photograph by Luc Viatour /


Creative thinking quotations

By Creative thinking No Comments

Here are some of my favourite creative thinking quotations:

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” ~ John Cage

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

“If the rate of change on the outside is greater than the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” ~ Jack Welch

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” ~ Edwin Land

“Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.” ~ Edward de Bono

“True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems is found.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“In a truly creative collaboration, work is pleasure and the only rules and procedures are those that advance the common cause.” ~ Warren Bennis

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” ~ Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895

“Men of talent have to be goaded to engage in creative work. The groans and laments of even the most gifted and prolific echo through the ages.” ~ Eric Hoffer

“In every work of genius, we recognize our once rejected thoughts.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’” ~ Marianne Williamson

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” ~ John Steinbeck

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” ~ General Erick Shinseki

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Stay in tune with your creative brain.” ~ Tony Buzan

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.” ~ Chuck Jones, Warner Brothers animator

“Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.” ~ Ken Robinson

“Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” ~ Carl Jung

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” ~ Howard Aiken

“If you do not the expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” ~ Heraclitus

M. A. Rosanoff: “Mr. Edison, please tell me what laboratory rules you want me to observe.”
Edison: “There ain’t no rules around here. We’re trying to accomplish somep’n!” ~ Thomas Edison

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” ~ Robert Wieder

“Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?” ~ Robert Kennedy

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” ~ Roger von Oech

Here is  a longer list of creativity quotations (which I will be expanding).

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