It’s time to highlight the top five posts of the year. It wasn’t easy to choose only five, and by limiting our choice to only five, we had to eliminate hundreds of wonderful posts. We feel, however, that these top five are the most hard-hitting, useful, or knowledge-packed posts that will retain value well beyond this year. And without further ado, the winners are: 1. Learn from the Best: an Interview with Digital Marketing Legend Larry Kim Our interview with Larry Kim, as well as the accompanying video webinar, “10 CRO Truth Bombs That Will Change the Way You Think”,…
There are a few concepts in CSS layout that can really enhance your CSS game once you understand them. This article is about the Block Formatting Context (BFC). You may never have heard of this term, but if you have ever made a layout with CSS, you probably know what it is. Understanding what a BFC is, why it works, and how to create one is useful and can help you to understand how layout works in CSS.
Webinars are one of the most popular tools used by marketers for lead generation. Not only are they great for generating demand but they’re also a less pushy way of nurturing cold leads. The reason is that you are offering to provide information that your audience will value in your webinars. You can also demonstrate your expertise and showcase your knowledge of the industry and domain using webinars. However, webinars can be truly beneficial for your company if they are planned and implemented well. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the things you need to do to ensure…
Looking for a well-rounded Product designer [REMOTE]
We’re growing our design team and looking for a person who understands product design, business perspective and why we do stuff that we do, but who’s also very good at visual design.
What will you be working on? Semaphore is a continuous delivery service, focused on speed and simplicity. A tool that helps developers write better code. More on semaphoreci.com.
Who you’ll be working with?
One of the biggest fallacies of our industry is that good work speaks for itself. It is a self-delusional lie that those with a good reputation tell themselves to explain their success.
Success means many things to many people. Some think it is getting to work on projects they love; others believe it is earning a lot of money, still others consider it is getting to spend more time with the family.
A type of hypothesis testing where multiple variables are tested simultaneously to determine how the variables and combinations of variables influence the output. If several different variables (factors) are believed to influence the results or output of a test, multivariate testing can be used to test all of these factors at once. Using an organized matrix which includes each potential combination of factors, the effects of each factor on the result can be determined. Also known as Design of Experiments (DOE), the first multivariate testing was performed in 1754 by Scottish physician James Lind as a means of identifying (or…
As web developers, we need to rely on our knowledge, and choosing solutions we’re already familiar with is often the most convenient approach to solving a problem. However, not only technology is evolving but also our knowledge of how to use it.
I recently spoke with a back-end developer friend about how many hours I spend coding or learning about code outside of work. He showed me a passage from an Uncle Bob book, “Clean Code”, which compares the hours musicians spend with their instruments in preparation for a concert to developers rehearsing code to perform at work.
I like the analogy but I’m not sure I fully subscribe to it; it’s that type of thinking that can cause burnout in the first place.
To go to the office every Monday to Friday, use a particular set of skills, sit at the same desk, talk to the same team members, eat at the same lunch spot…
While routine can be a stabilizing force, it can also lead to stagnation and a lack of inspiration (a worrisome situation for any marketer).
Companies take great care to put structures in place to improve productivity and efficiency, but too often de-prioritize creativity. And yet, creativity is essential to driving innovation and competition—two vital components of business growth.
At WiderFunnel, we believe in the Zen Marketing mindset. This mindset recognizes that there is an intuitive, inspired, exploratory side to marketing that imagines potential insights, as well as a qualitative, logical, data-driven side that proves whether the insights really work.
In order to come up with the very best ideas to test, you must have room to get creative.
So, how can you make creativity a priority at your company?
Last month, the WiderFunnel team set out to answer that question for ourselves. We went on a retreat to one of British Columbia’s most beautiful islands, with the goal of learning how to better tap into and harness our creativity, as individuals and as a team.
We spent three days trying to unleash our creative sides, and the tactics we brought back to the office have had exciting effects! In this post, I’m going to share four strategies that we have put into practice at WiderFunnel to help our team get creative, that you can replicate in your company today.
As Jack London said,
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
An introduction to creativity
There are many ways to think about creativity, but for our purposes, let’s consider the two types of creativity: technical creativity and artistic creativity. The former refers to the creation of new theories, new technologies, and new ideas. The latter revolves around skills, technique, and self-expression.
As a company, we were focused on tapping into technical creativity on our retreat. One of the main elements of technical creativity is lateral thinking.
Your brain recognizes patterns: faces, language, handwriting. This is beneficial in that you can recognize an object or a situation very quickly (you see a can of Coke and you know exactly what it is without having to analyze it).
But, we can get stuck in our patterns. We think within patterns. We problem-solve within patterns. Often, the solutions we come up with are based on solutions we’ve already come up with to similar problems. And we do this without really knowing that our solutions belong to other patterns.
Lateral thinking techniques can help you bust out of this…well…pattern.
While structured, disciplined thinking is vital to making your products and services better, lateral thinking can help you come up with completely new concepts and unexpected solutions.
The following 4 tactics will help you think laterally at work, to find truly original solutions to problems.
1. Put on a different (thinking) hat
One of our first activities on the island was to break into groups and tackle an internal company challenge with the six thinking hats. Developed by Edward de Bono, the “six thinking hats” is a tool for group discussion and individual thinking.
The idea behind the six hats is that our brains think in distinct ways that we can deliberately challenge. Each hat represents a direction in which the brain can be challenged. When you ‘put on a different hat’, your brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of the problem you’re trying to solve, according to your hat.
None of these hats represent completely natural ways of thinking, but rather how some of us already represent the results of our thinking.
In our exercise, we began a discussion each wearing one of the six hats. As the conversation progressed, we were forced to switch hats and continue our discussion from entirely different perspectives. It was uncomfortable and challenging, but the different hats forced each of us to explore the problem in a way that was totally alien.
The outcome was exciting: people who are normally quiet were forced to manage a discussion, people who are normally incredulous were forced to be optimistic, people who are normally dreamers were forced to ask for facts…it opened up totally new doors within the discussion.
In WiderFunnel’s main meeting room, there are six cards that represent each of the six hats. Whenever I find myself stuck, dealing with a challenge I can’t seem to solve, I wander into that meeting room and try to tackle the problem ‘wearing each hat’. Disrupting my normal thinking patterns often leads to ‘A-ha!’ moments.
To encourage lateral thinking, you could: create something physical and tangible (cards, hats, etc.) that your team can utilize when they are stuck to challenge the ‘normal’ ways in which they think.
2. Solve puzzles (literally)
A man jumps out of a window of a 30-story building. He falls all the way to the ground and lands on solid concrete with nothing to cushion his fall, yet he is completely uninjured. How is this possible?
There are 20 birds on a fence. A woman shoots one of the birds. How many birds are left?
There is an egg carton holding a dozen eggs on a table. Twelve people take one egg each, but there is still one egg left in the carton. How?
During our retreat, we spent some time solving word problems just like these, in order to disrupt our day-to-day thinking patterns.
Riddles like these challenge our brains because they are difficult to think through using straightforward logic. Instead, you have to think outside of the content within the puzzle and use your knowledge of language and experience to solve it.
Puzzles require you to use reasoning that is not immediately obvious, and involve ideas that you may not arrive at using traditional step-by-step logic.
When you are faced with a puzzle like one of the riddles above, your mind is forced to think critically about something you might otherwise dismiss or fail to understand completely.
The thinking involved in solving puzzles can be characterized as a blend of imaginative association and memory. It is this blend…that leads us to literally see the pattern or twist that a puzzle conceals. It is a kind of “clairvoyance” that typically provokes an Aha! effect.
To encourage creative, critical thinking, you could: incorporate puzzles into your day-to-day. Email your team a word problem every morning, or set up a physical puzzle somewhere in your office, so that people can take puzzle breaks!
3. Unpack your assumptions
Often, when we are faced with a question or problem, we have already classified that question or problem by its perceived limitations or rules. For example, you have assumptions about your users (most likely backed by data!) about what they want and need, what their pain points are, etc.
But, these assumptions, even if they are correct, can sometimes blind you to other possibilities. Unpacking your assumptions involves examining all of your assumptions, and then flipping them upside down. This can be tough because our assumptions are often deeply ingrained.
On the island, WiderFunnel-ers listed out all of our assumptions about what our clients want. At the top of that list was an assumption about what every marketer wants: to increase ROI. When we flipped that assumption, however, we were left with a hypothetical situation in which our clients don’t care at all about ROI.
All of a sudden, we were asking questions about what we might be able to offer our clients that has nothing to do with increasing ROI. While this hypothetical is an extreme, it forced us to examine all of the other areas where we might be able to help our clients.
To encourage creative problem-solving, you could: advise your team to list out all of their assumptions about a problem, flip ‘em, and then look for the middle ground.
4. Think of the dumbest idea you possibly can
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
– Sylvia Plath
To wrap up day 1 of our retreat, we did an activity called Dumbest Idea First. We walked around in a circle in the sunshine, shouting out the dumbest ideas we could think of about how to encourage more creativity at WiderFunnel.
The circle was quiet at first. Because being dumb, sounding dumb, looking dumb is scary. But, after a few people yelled out some really, really dumb ideas, everyone got into it. We were all moving, and making ridiculous suggestions, and in the midst of it all, one person would shout out a gem of an idea.
For instance, someone suggested a ‘brainstorm bubble’: a safe space within the office where you can go when you’re stuck, and your co-workers can see you and join you in the bubble to help you brainstorm.
(We have since started doing this at the office and it has been awesome!)
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes limit myself during a brainstorm—I find myself trying to be creative while still being pragmatic.
But, when you give yourself permission to be dumb, all of a sudden the possibilities are endless. And I guarantee you will surprise yourself with the great ideas you stumble upon.
Encourage creativity by allowing yourself and your team time and space to be unapologetically dumb.
What are some of the strategies you use to keep things creative at your company? Have you tried or improved upon any of the aforementioned strategies? Let us know in the comments!
It’s every marketer’s dream. To lay your head to rest at night with the knowledge that when you wake, your bank balance will be just that little bit bigger. The passive income dream is common enough among marketers and entrepreneurs. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch their bank balance grow as they sat back with their feet up enjoying a cold drink? But it’s always been an elusive goal. The dream of making money while you sleep often remains exactly that, a dream. It’s difficult, but definitely not impossible. There’s countless examples of solopreneurs, small businesses and huge corporations…