March was BC (before coronavirus) and we are now in the era AD (after disease). The virus is not totally gone but businesses and other organisations are already trying to determine how to move forward. Some will try to carry on as before and will either a) fail or b) evolve slowly. Others will realise that the world will be different and will, therefore, try to be different.
The problem with this way of thinking is that everyone else is trying to be different too. You must ensure that your ‘Different’ is not the same as everyone else’s ‘Different’. How?
First of all, let me introduce you to precept number two of my twelve precepts of Creativity. It simply states ‘Explore the givens’. When we are trying to work out what to do, we usually do not go back to basics every time. There are some things that we just assume will be constant.
For example, we might have priced up a project last year and decided it was too expensive because of the IT costs. This year, even though costs might have fallen we have not revisited a potentially beneficial project because we have made assumptions about IT costs.
This is a trivial example but we can encounter hundreds of these in a week in our workplace. We might do things in a certain way because the Health and Safety manual says so. In fact, the manual might say what has to be done rather than how!
There are other ‘rules’ such as how a document should look or what format a proposal should be in. There are ‘givens’ everywhere and sometimes challenging these might give us the edge we are looking for.
I also teach people a couple of techniques that relate to the boundaries of problem issues. We ask the questions ‘what if’ regarding the boundaries and this allows us to unpick the problem and make it look different (and solvable).
So far, I have made it sound like we just do not conform. Well yes and no. Let us consider an actual example.
I am currently revising my book Creativity In Action and targeting at larger companies not small businesses. It goes without saying that some of the content will be different but that is not what sells books. Books are sold on looks. A book has to grab your attention when you walk up to the Business Books section of your local book store.
If you search for information on what makes a good book cover you will find a lot! The results will include the following:
- Must include title, author, subtitle
- Convey the tone of the book
- Include a hint of the plot or sub plot
- Include a photo or graphics
- Choose the right font (how?)
- Choose the right colour (how?)
And the list goes on. There appears to be a whole heap of collective wisdom about the best way to create a book cover.
My question is do we need it all? The main criterion is the book must say to people ‘you are curious, pick me up’. The book will then sell itself (or not).
On the flip side, everyone who is writing a book that will compete with mine could be using the same criteria. Apart from the unlikely event of coming up with the same title, they could choose a similar, font, colour or just layout.
So, which of the criteria are mandatory? Well in the case of a Business book this is probably not necessary. If someone picks it up, they can look at the foreword or introduction.
How about the author or title? Well, the title might be a good idea but the author is not really necessary either. Other decorations such as graphics or pictures are the type of thing that publishers might try and compete with. We don’t really care, the book just has to stand out.
I don’t know what the cover really will look like but I have included some standout book covers below (not business books though) alongside a mock up of (a possibility for mine). As you can see, I have settled on a bold colour with a small title. Will this stick out? Let’s wait and see.
Whatever happens, I would like you, the reader, to try determine whether the rules that you follow without question, the ‘givens’, really do have to be obeyed or would breaking the rules provide an advantage for you?