Want to stay competitive in today's environment? Take a cue from some of the best.

Staff Writer

In business today, creativity is required of people more than ever to stay competitive and profitable in a world that’s becoming more complicated by the day. From pivoting into new products, to developing new ways to grab people’s attention, more creativity is needed than ever before as it gets harder to stand out.

Luckily there are firms around the world who make creativity their business, from design firms to marketing agencies. Their entire business is focused on helping companies think about things differently, but what are the tools they use internally to stay creative?

Here’s 5 creativity tools from some of the top firms in the world, to stay above the fray and keep those creative juices flowing.

1. Collective Action Toolkit | Frog Design

The biggest problem with creativity can sometimes be having a process to channel that creativity into an end product, and not having a method to design those solutions can result in a lot of time wasted and frustration created working through that process.

Luckily, Frog Design created a toolkit to aid in helping teams walk through the design process, developed in part to help NGO’s and non profit organizations around the world walk through a design process that results in creative solutions to solving all kinds of problems. This toolkit is available in the form of a download, and covers the steps and processes recommended to help any team walk through a creative design process.

2. The 7 Rules for Brainstorming | IDEO

At IDEO, the services are only as valuable as they are useful and creative. To maintain an active stream of creativity, rules need to be enforced to maintain an active and creative culture. This can be no more in danger at times, than during a Brainstorming session. To solve that problem, IDEO has seven rules of brainstorming that companies can use to make the process as open and useful as possible.

You can get the full list of ideas from their website list above in the title, but the important take away that these rules help reinforce is the principle that brainstorming relies on as many ideas as possible to start with in order to extract as much useful possibility as possible. Encouraging open dialog, helping people feel respected, and giving everyone a chance to speak can all help encourage an open and creative brainstorming session.

3. Innovation Flowchart | Development Impact & You

When it comes to innovation, a big part of the problem is where to start and what the end result should look like. “Innovation” sessions are notorious time sucks, resulting in a lot of sticky notes but no real concrete output or clear next steps.

Development Impact & You (or DIY) has an Innovation Flowchart that guides teams through a step-by-step innovation process that can help explore and answer the fundamental questions that comprise a clear Innovation process.

4. Design Sprint | Google Ventures

As Google describes it on their website, “the sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. Developed at GV, it’s a ‘greatest hits’ of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more–packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.” There’s even a book you can purchase to learn more about the methodology.

This largely encompasses the previous creative tools mentioned here, though done in a manner that ties everything together in a five day workshop. The best part about creative processes though, is that you can hack them to fit into whatever challenges you’re needing to solve. Given the folks at Google have come out with some pretty creative things over the years, it’s certainly a process worth checking out.

5. Get Out and Walk | Every Agency Everywhere

This may seem like a no brainer, but getting out and going for a walk has been shown to enhance creativity as much if not more than any other method out there. Walking has been scientifically proven to not only enhance mental function, but can help with focus and clarity when it comes to solving hard problems. Consider walking with a co-worker vs sitting at a table if you get stuck, or taking a walking break throughout the day to get the clarity of mind you need to stay creative and productive.

Though there’s several more methods and tools I could list, these are a good starting point to consider how you’re staying creative in your workplace and how you might consider focusing more on a creative mindset when those challenges head your way.