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 todays economy, I cant imagine a thriving business that is not looking creatively at itself.
I dont 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 dont understand the how or why of making creativity part of their business culture, but there are hopeful signsmore 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 predominatequalities 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.
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 wouldnt 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 bityes, this is a concept that expands beyond casual Fridays (because wearing denim on Fridays wont 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 settinghow about an outing to a coffee shop?
- Allow your subordinates time (four hours) during the week to engage in a personal passion projectit 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 stimulatedthe 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 its 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.