Creativity is one great skill to cultivate. We always think of it from a personal standpoint where if we can develop the skill, it makes as more employable. Anyhow, companies are always looking for problem solvers and not problem spotters. Running a steady and reliable status quo business just doesn’t cut it anymore, at least not for the long run. It particularity helps if you are running a startup as delivering the solution has a great need for creativity to find a way to do it faster, cheaper and better.
Can companies play a part in developing this? Of course and it has to start from culture. Leaders have an important part to play in this. And when I mean leaders, it doesn’t necessary just mean the guy up top but formal and informal leader within the company. However, it takes courage to do so and foster a culture that unlocks creativity and breeds innovation are increasingly coming out ahead of their competition. Leaders need to keep organizations from falling into the comfort of habit really does take courage. However, only the really brave can sacrifice a certain level of efficiency to explore and potentially fail especially when there is pressure to demonstrate profitable growth. But even though investing in creativity can feel risky at times, when managed well, we know it can reap extensive benefits leading to a more innovative culture, new and profitable business opportunities, and fresh products and experiences. This leads to more engaged and loyal customers.
Creativity is not only for a specific department but organisation wide. James Hurman’s “The Case for Creativity” makes a compelling case for this thinking. In his book, he reviews a long list of recent Cannes Lions award winners and demonstrates a strong pattern that connects them with standout business results during the same time period. One example is Swatch that doubled its share value while the stock market remained flat.
How can you drive this culture of creativity amongst your team members?
The first is to impose constraints. But these constraints have to be SMART especially being realistic. No one wants to figure out a way to get to Mars in 1 second. Describe the problem you are trying to solve, and then get out of the way when it comes to the process and strategy of achieving that. Give people space to ingest information and play with new ideas without the pressure of coming to a solution rapidly.
Secondly, change it up. Remove that Business as Usual mindset and rethink your business model, customer model, operational model. Disruptors turn entire industries upside down by creatively rethinking the fundamental assumptions that have governed an industry, often for decades.
Thirdly, build a diverse think force. We keep calling it workforce but as the ecosystem and climate changes, we have to think of employees as think force. intellectually diverse teams need to be able to effectively collaborate, feel comfortable and valued for sharing unique perspectives, and stay open to being questioned. Being defensive is a big no no. Accept feedback and be prepared to change which anyhow is the only constant in today’s world. The true measure of diversity comes from having a breadth of perspectives. Master the balance of collaborative creativity and your team will have the strongest ability to land on high-quality creative solutions.
Finally, be brave to bring in the collaborative element across the company. Albert Einstein calls this combinatory play or the process of combining novel concepts in unexpected ways. By putting in a new function for a product would this drive/develop a new revenue stream? Have the courage to release a “version one” as you creatively experiment with these new and novel combinations. Be agile, move forward with curiosity, test and learn through failures.
Encourage creativity and track the outputs across an extended period. If a balance between freedom needed for new ideas to come out and delivering results, a leader will find his organisation with immense potential to lead in the industry. Learn from the past but be a forward thinker. And the funny part is that creativity is a rolling stone. Have it within the culture and this stone continues to gather more moss.
Think different. Start today.
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