A Creative Mindset Can Help Your Business

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The vital role creativity plays in business, innovation and solving problems.

 

The role of creativity in business and innovation is a topic often discussed of late. Creativity in business is not only about product innovation, but can help Hispanic businesses create ways to work smarter and improve the quality of life, helping redefine our world.

In my work as a creative consultant, I often see how people struggle to understand how a creative approach can help a business grow. I tell them, in today’s economy, I can’t imagine a thriving business that is not looking creatively at itself.

I don’t think anyone can argue, that our “business psyche” is in a major shift, a critical time when we are moving from an era where siloed thinking, traditional hierarchy and top-down change ruled, where a separation and sometimes antagonistic relationship existed between “serious” business and creativity.

Many companies still don’t understand the how or why of making creativity part of their business culture, but there are hopeful signs—more conservative companies are hiring creative consultants in the hopes of developing creativity as part of their culture, and business schools are starting to teach creativity as part of entrepreneurship.

In one of my favorite business books, “A Whole New Mind,” Daniel H. Pink suggests that the era of “left brain” dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which “right brain” qualities, including inventiveness, empathy and meaning predominate—qualities more closely associated with creative types like myself.

While there is no doubt that creativity is one of the most important ingredients for a successful start-up, it is also one of the most important success criteria for anybody involved in business leadership. In an IBM survey of more than 1,500 chief executive officers (CEOs) from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, CEOs overwhelming ranked creativity as the number one most important quality to successfully navigating an increasing complex world.
 

Creative Culture

 

So how does a company make creativity a part of its culture? The obvious first step is to first figure out how creativity needs to show up in your organization:

Is it a culture wide change that you desire?

  • Is it a new focus for your sales team?
  • Is it a gradual, team by team change that you need?

Once you identify what your organization needs, you can then go about designing a change-management plan based on these objectives.

For the most part, business people have been indoctrinated to draw inside the lines. To ask them to reverse this way of thinking is quite radical, so how can you change this? Does this mean that executives should immerse themselves in afternoons of finger painting in order to connect with their right brains? Although I am quite sure this wouldn’t hurt, it may be frowned upon by the “grown-ups” in the organization.

Here are six ideas that you might consider to help bring some creative mojo to your organization.

Consider creating a physical space that is conducive to creativity, from creating an “idea mosh pit” to an informal space with couches where people can congregate and talk. In the creative field you will often find a ping pong or billiard table close to the “creatives.”

  • How about taking Friday afternoons to “play” a bit—yes, this is a concept that expands beyond “casual Fridays” (because wearing denim on Fridays won’t make your company more creative).
  • I once worked for a company that had yoga and massage Fridays, as well as classical piano in the atrium after 5 p.m. —it was wonderful!
  • Get people from different business units together in a non-office setting—how about an outing to a coffee shop?
  • Allow your subordinates time (four hours) during the week to engage in a personal passion project—it could be anything from a business problem they are trying to solve to writing a novel.
  • Consider hiring creative, entrepreneurial thinkers who bring a different and perhaps disruptive point of view to your business.

 

I assure you these ideas are all legitimate. Scientific proof shows that when we “play” a different part of our brain is stimulated—the part that stimulates creativity. Get the ideas flowing and not necessarily about an issue or business need.

Whatever you do, please avoid using the phrase “thinking outside the box” (I cringe when I hear this expression). In an effort to foster creativity and innovation, in the late ’90s we overused the phrase, and it’s time to retire it entirely from our business lexicon. This concept was developed to help us think beyond boundaries and envision possibilities. At the height of its popularity, few business people actually grasped the meaning of this, much less the implementation of what is learned when really “thinking outside the box.” This is mainly because most people like knowing what is outside of the box, but few actually embrace the change that it would demand.

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About the author

Maria Botta

Maria Botta is the founder of FWD-Action, a digital strategy consultancy, working with small to mid sized businesses, helping to lead clients in the convergence of technology, creativity, entertainment. FWD ACTION allows Botta to continue to do what brings her the most professional and personal satisfaction, “Doing great work that truly matters, with integrity, for those clients who are striving to do good works for the world". Botta is the daughter of Cuban exiles, she was born in the US, and raised in Europe and the Caribbean, she holds an MBA in Global Management from Thunderbird's prestigious European program in Geneva, Switzerland and an Art History degree from Mt. Holyoke College.

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