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How thinking differently can help your business to thrive.

To compete in today’s market; you need to be able to produce results consistently whilst meeting the ever-changing and diverse needs of your customer base. Like a chameleon, your business and your staff need to change your approach in multiple scenarios in order to remain competitive. You only have to look at companies like Nike with “Design My Nike ID” to see how big businesses are adapting to their diverse customer base.  What is the secret to long term success?

The Secret Weapon of Chameleon

Chameleons are well known for their ability to change the colour but did you know that their secret weapon is their ability to see in two directions at once? Business chameleons know how to use this secret weapon.  The first direction should be on the current business. You ask logical questions like, what’s working? What can we improve? The second direction should be on future business. You apply creative thinking to create a new world of possibilities.

The Creativity We Choose

To illustrate this point further, let’s play a game.  I want you to start with a letter and then add another letter. At each point, as you add another letter, a whole word has to be formed.

Start with ‘a’.

Add ‘t’. The new word is ‘at’.

Add ‘c’. The new word is ‘cat’.

Add ‘o’. The new word is ‘coat’.

Add ‘r’. The new word is ‘actor’.

In Eduard De Bono, “Think! Before It’s Too Late”, he explains that human brain is not designed to be creative. Our brain is designed to set up routine patterns and to use and follow these patterns. At the start of the game, it was quite simple to add the new letter to the existing ones to form a new word. With the addition of the ‘r’, it was necessary to go back and completely restructure the use of the previous words. In business, there may come a point where we have to go back and restructure what we had before. This type of creative thinking is necessary for businesses to survive in the long run.

Applying logical thinking will be the death of your business in the long run. For example, do you remember the bookstore Borders? At one point, they were considered one of the leaders in their marketplace. Unfortunately, they got left behind by its competitors who invested more broadly in on-line technology. The bookstore filed for bankruptcy in 2011 which saw some 11,000 employees lose their jobs.

Creativity in Practice

Creativity in practice needs to be a more conscience business process. Take our business planning day last month. Right at the end of the two days, we had 30 minutes to spend on ‘blue sky thinking”. Applying one of the creative thinking tools, we asked each team member to generate their top seven ideas related to a specific business idea. In less than 20 minutes, we have had 34 distinct business opportunities of which we will continue to build on. What does your innovation pipeline say about your business?

Creativity is usable as a deliberate skill and should be developed as a way you do things in your business. Enjoy this edition of Red and apply the power of creative thinking!

Are You A Business Chameleon?

Do you….

  •   Have diverse revenue sources that are not over reliant on a customer or product?
  •   Segment your customer base into groups who share similar interests or needs?
  •   Create or customise your products and services to suit different needs of your customer base?
  •   Embrace diverse thinking styles in your workforce?


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About the Author

Tim Miles

Tim Miles is the co-founder of  Miles Management Consulting which supports business owners and leaders to drive better business performance.

Tim has vast experience in the strategic and financial management of businesses with a particular focus on cash flow and profit improvement, strategic thinking and performance reporting.  He has extensive knowledge of business start-ups and acquisitions as well as exit and succession planning.  Tim is an adviser with Supertrac, a corporate advisory firm specialising in business divestments, mergers and acquisitions.

Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).

If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Tim on

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