So much of business can feel routine and boring. Repetitive process is important for scalability, but it can also send everyone into a dull rut that can lower morale and productivity. Too much routine can also put you at risk of losing to the competition.

The most successful companies find ways to inject creativity into their process. Individuals are encouraged to be creative within their own areas. Useful innovation can take place even in seemingly routine functions such as HR and accounting. Here are my suggestion for a quick creativity boost and more insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Start over.

Whenever I feel like I have hit a plateau in my business, I do what I like to call the "new beginning" exercise. I sit down and list out a job description for the project or position as if it were my first day taking on the role. This allows me fresh perspective to see what the person doing it before--me--was doing right and doing wrong. Then I try to think of ways to do things totally differently. The emotional detachment from the past helps me look forward to new and exciting methods and solutions.

2. Don't settle for mediocre.

When I was a kid we built obstacle courses and pretended the ground was lava; if we fell off, we "died." Extend that premise to your business: What if every mistake was a fatal mistake? If every shipment had to be perfect, what would you need to do? Pick any process and assume perfection, not incremental gains, is a requirement. It's amazing how creative you can be when there are no "outs" to fall back on. --Owner's Manual

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3. Get hot.

To jump-start my creativity I find the best thing I can do is to jump in the shower and turn it on--hot. There’s just something about that hot water pouring over my head to loosen up all sorts of great ideas. Try it some time! --The Leadership Guy

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4. Talk about it.

There are times, especially when I have to create a course or program, that I get particularly stuck. For me, this condition blocks all creative flow and leads to lack of motivation and inspiration. These are the times I visit a friend or peer who is willing to listen and perhaps even brainstorm with me. The simple act of thinking and processing out loud tends to unearth creative ideas and a process for carrying them out. When a lack of creativity hits, call your coach, a savvy friend, or a colleague, and enjoy regaining your flow! --The Successful Soloist

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5. Do something unrelated.

If you are under the pressure of a deadline to "be creative," you may feel like you don't have the option of letting creativity happen naturally. Rather than diving in and trying to trudge through, I find my best way forward is to step away from the project altogether. Creativity comes at the most unusual times, and it can't be forced. For me, creativity is best inspired when I am doing something completely unrelated to the task I need to accomplish. If I am struggling to tap into my creativity, I take a long walk, swim laps, or go to Starbucks for a jolt of java. I have learned that in order to jump in, I must first step back. --Lean Forward

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