The following article by Royann Dean is reproduced from the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants' Newsletter

Management Consultants are called in to organizations to solve problems by finding the most logical solutions to the challenges faced by the business. We are the fixers. In an environment where innovation and differentiation (not based on price) are the keys to survival, creativity is the real currency. My perspective is that creativity is a business asset for two key reasons: it enables a more holistic thought process to find better business solutions and it creates a better employee and end-user experience.

In part one of this two-part series, I will examine how strategic creativity and holistic thinking can lead to better business outcomes.

In many organizations, creativity is generally not considered a business asset. And depending on the stage of the organization’s growth and the type of change that’s happening in the industry in which it operates, creativity may be an important bridge to reach the next stage of the business cycle.

Creativity is not a four-letter word.

In traditional business environments, creativity is often like a four-letter word, relegated to the proverbial kiddie corner rather than welcomed into the corner office. To me, it comes down to just that – thinking.

The traditional management consultant typically comes from an industry such as finance or economics, where linear thinking is highly valued whereas creative thinking is non-linear. What’s the difference? Consider linear thinking as a thought process that follows a step-by-step progression where a response to a step must be elicited before another step is taken. In other words, one identifies a problem, chooses a starting point as a solution, and works out the logical steps to reach it.

The danger with this is that sometimes the solution that is considered may be one of many alternative solutions or may not be the solution at all.

In contrast, non-linear thinking can be thought of as a thought process that expands in multiple directions, rather than in one direction. It is based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to a problem. Rather than deducing that if ‘x’ is happening, the solution is ‘y’, one focuses on the actual challenge and potentially finds several solutions.

The True Value of Management Consulting

Creativity and holistic thinking in management consulting enables consultants to be more open to solutions. Solutions which may not be the (traditional) safe and logical answers but can ultimately be ‘game-changers’.

How to we activate the creative side of our brains? Put the mouse down and step away from your desk! Get into surroundings that are new, explore different industries and meet stimulating persons with outlooks that differ from your own. Attend conferences on business innovation, such as the Vanity Fair New Establishment and any number of the Bloomberg summits or conferences on leadership, business trends and design. Question your logic and look at familiar environments with a new lens. The ability to bring novel ideas and open new conversations to actionable solutions is where the true value of consulting lies.

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