Can you remember back to your school days?
I’m sure for some of us it will be easier than for others! Remember how you’d answer a question, but even though it was technically right, it wasn’t the one the teacher was looking for?
Q. What is ‘hard water’?
A. Ice (of course!)
See what I mean?
There was only ever one right answer at school - imagine what that did for your creativity and your confidence.
Many people, and you may be one of them, grow up believing that they’re not creative, but I’m a strong believer that trying to be creative makes us creative. It gets the under-used side of our brain up and running, the side that’s been lying dormant possibly since childhood.
I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said,
“We don’t stop playing because we grow up, we grow up because we stop playing”.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you go out french skipping at lunchtime or kicking a ball against a wall (though then again, why not?) but start playing at work; playing with ideas.
Here’s a couple of ideas that will not only get the creative juices flowing but will also add value to your business.
Idea Pooling: how you can improve your Customer experience maybe or how you can attract more of your perfect Customers.
Gather your team, no ‘wrong’ answers, just as many ideas as you can think of, sane or wacky - get them all down and then pick out the gems. You’ll see people building on the ideas of others and gaining confidence that anything goes and no one is sitting in judgement. As well as providing original ideas it’s also a great team building exercise; just keep the energy high and have fun!
Mind-maps: I love. They are a great way to generate new and creative ideas, I so wish I’d known about them when I was at school. Such a great tool for revising and particularly for generating ideas when you’re planning.
A mind-map gets us thinking in almost a chaotic way, allowing us to go off in all sorts of different directions, like a spider’s web. It snaps us out of that linear way of thinking which is more ordered and restrictive.
I bet you know someone who you think of as an ‘ideas’ person. Well the truth is we are all ‘ideas people’, we just need to give the creative side of our brain a bit of regular exercise. Just make a start and keep practising. I’m telling you, you’ll be amazed.
I wonder where the creative children who gave these ‘wrong answers’ are now?
Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow
Q. Explain what you most like about Kipling?
A. Almond slices
Q. How do you change centimetres into metres?
A. Remove ‘centi’.
Do one thing: Have some fun this week!
P.S. Great systems are a great foundation for you and the creative people in your business. They take care of the nuts and bolts of business to give you time to get those creative juices flowing.
‘Great systems are not chains to tie you down they are wings to help you fly’.
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on
I’ve refrained from mentioning the B word in my posts. Like many of you I’m heartily sick of the dreaded ‘Brexit’ word. It’s not that I’ve been burying my head in the sand or anything, just rather like many people I’ve not felt qualified to give advice. But there is one thing I would recommend, and that is to plan.
Not knowing which way we’re going to go, let alone what’s going to happen then, can perhaps make people think what’s the point of planning when your crystal ball has totally clouded over.
Any time you work on a business plan you are faced with two things.
Now at anytime those ‘unknowables’ take an amount of guesswork based on things like the starting point of your business, the economy, strength of the pound, forecasts etc. So you plan using what you know and your best guesswork based on your current knowledge.
With Brexit/no Brexit looming those ‘unknowables’ are worse than usual since they can be a totally different set of unknowables depending on a hard Brexit or even no Brexit at all! Suddenly your best guesswork is built on very little knowledge and two possible outcomes at extremes of each other.
I usually say that planning is fun but I imagine planning for many businesses at the moment is a nightmare. So many factors are outside individual businesses’ control it can feel like you’re going to hit sheet ice and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
But I still believe in planning. Plan based on what you know and then plan based on what you can imagine. Planning in the current climate is going to need some creativity. Brainstorming how a hard Brexit or no Brexit might affect your business; get your team, your suppliers, your Customers involved, perhaps a third party unconnected with you who can add a ‘naive’ or independent view.
This is about planning for the worst case scenario but it can also be about recognising opportunities for example the effects of a weakened pound on exports, tourism, staycations etc.
McDonald’s taught me a lot about the importance of planning, and how to be smart about it. I learned that planning is a team sport; most effective when it involves the people it affects as well as those who will deliver on it. Add someone with no bias or axe to grind into the mix, and you will develop a truly effective plan.
I learned that you listen to those with the skills and experience, but you also consider the new and the different; that it’s ok to re-visit what might once have been considered crazy or just plain wrong for the business, as things change, and the ‘right time’ comes along.
I learned that you have a system for planning that makes it routine, regular, consistent; that keeps you focused on the end goal, even when you need to adapt, or change your route.
A plan for me isn’t something to be made then stuck in a drawer it needs to be dynamic; reviewed and adapted to changing circumstances. And 2019 may prove the most fluid yet.
Do one thing: Review your business plans. Do they include worst case scenarios or potential opportunities?
For more information on how MPL can help you, contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine you have a boat. It’s the start of a new year and you’ve just set sail, headed out to sea - full of optimism and excitement. Captain of your destiny. Owner of your fate.
But where are you headed? Wherever the current takes you? Slave to the tide and the prevailing wind? Or have you plotted a course to take you to your dream destination?
Now imagine that boat is your business.
Business navigation is no easier than navigating the ocean, but just like sailing the high seas, you’ll always be better off with robust preparation and planning, so give some thought to the following:
What’s the name of your boat?
This will say a lot about how you see yourself right now.
If you had to name it today what would it be: ‘Victory’, Endurance’?
Or might it be ‘All at Sea’?
Have you set your course?
What are your goals and milestones for 2019; for the next 90 days?
And what about practical action plans to achieve them?
How will you recognise that storms are coming before they hit?
What have you put in place to pick up on problems - to anticipate and overcome them?
How will you fill the gaps in your knowledge and experience?
Who or what are your anchors that will keep you from going under?
These are often the people who keep you grounded, keep you going, maybe develop and inspire you. A family member or a trusted mentor.
Perhaps they are words from a loved one that you carry with you.
Or perhaps it’s a faith, a belief in something greater than yourself.
How have you selected your crew?
Did you recruit to your values and passion? And how have you developed their skills to help them fulfill their promise? Can they take over happily if you get seasick or need to sleep?
What are the Values, the compass points that will keep you on a true course?
Those things that make you and your business tick, that show the world what you stand for. That you hold true too, day in and day out.
Do one thing: Think about where you're headed in 2019, and ask these questions to check that you’re prepared for whatever comes - good or otherwise.
Wishing you a safe and splendid passage through the year.
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact us at
I was at a business meeting this week, where the people around the table were talking about their plans for 2014. It was both inspiring and frightening in equal measure.
While some had clearly spent a great deal of time time thinking about the coming year, reviewing wins and lessons learned from last year, setting themselves challenging goals, and planning what they would focus on and when...at least half the room had not. Wish lists and hopes were the order of the day, with lots of pre-prepared excuses for why things wouldn't work again this year.
There was lots of talk of how much there was to do, and how little time...the children, and lack of technical know-how were trotted out as blocks to success...lack of confidence, ignorance of e mail marketing, online gaming addictions, the list of reasons why not was seemingly endless.
Despite having great ideas with huge potential, they were prepared to sit on them, out of what..? Fear? Laziness? Procrastination? They were keen enough to come to business meetings, but not motivated enough to take action. It both saddened and frustrated me.
An idea...even a great one...is only an idea, until you act on it.
For those who ACT...those who plan...set targets...focus on priorities...get stuff done...the rewards are great and plentiful.
But you have to act...every day.
You have to be focused on your priorities...every day.
You have to get stuff done...every day!
It demands discipline, yes...it requires commitment, absolutely...and when you reach a target, when you achieve a goal...it requires wild celebration, most definitely!
You have to really want success to achieve it. You have to be passionate about what you do and 100% committed to doing it. You have to have enough drive and self discipline to get past your barriers and take action that moves you forward every single day.
2014 is the year of ACTION...be an ACTor and have your best year yet!
If you struggle to act...to manage your time effectively to get stuff done, then please contact me at email@example.com
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)