How well brands perform is becoming increasingly dependent on the organisation’s ability to be creative. On a fundamental level, this speaks to the creativity of your workforce who can drive your business forward towards success.
“Creative thinking lies at the heart of everything that a business does,” says Lizwe Nkala, managing director of Flamingo Moon. “So many businesses are good at building teams and putting processes in place, but the real lifeblood of a business that increases its profit, is creativity.”
Creativity is one resource that you need that will distinguish your company and your product or services, in that specific industry.
Here are six tips on how to boost creativity in the workplace:
Create Innovation Teams
Set up innovative teams that are each tasked with coming up with ideas around a specific problem or how to improve on work processes within the business. Through creating innovative teams, you are encouraging idea-sharing and this shows that your business values work-related creativity.
The best innovation team is a mixture of creative and analytical people. Putting together a team of people who are only capable of thinking ‘outside the box’ won’t be enough for success, because the generation of the idea is only one part of the process. The team needs to go through a series of phases that include a creative phase to generate new business ideas, an analytical phase to understand their potential and a development phase to refine the best ideas and then test these in the market.
Google set up something known as the 20% programme where Google developers got to spend 20% of their working hours on work-related side projects. This was introduced to give their employees the time and space to engage in innovative thinking. The policy has worked so successfully that some of their best products, such as Google News, have originated during this creative thinking time.
Create an environment where you encourage your employees to engage in creative thinking and problem solving. Employees will often look to their management for confirmation and encouragement and you need to ensure that your management team openly approves of innovative thinking and rewards it.
Often the reason why employees don’t think outside of the box is because they are unsure about whether your company supports creative suggestions. Examine the status quo within your business to see if you are rewarding risk-taking or discouraging it.
Allow your Employees to Question
“Don’t take the first destination. Question everything,” says Nkala. “Whether the decision is coming from the executive team or management, encourage your employees to engage with and question the underlying assumptions of the decision.”
Business owners and their managers must give employees the latitude to engage in open constructive debate. In empowerment cultures, business owners will ask their employees: “What do you think?” and: “How would you handle this?” Encourage your staff to not just identify the problems but actively seek out the solutions to them.
Creativity in Diversity
Pixar Studios consisted of three separate buildings, one which housed the computer scientists, another for the animators, and the third building for everyone else in the company. When Steve Jobs joined the company as chairman, he realised that the division of Pixar into silos was inhibiting creativity. He believed that getting people from vastly different cultures to work together would improve collaboration. Jobs insisted that Pixar Studios be amalgamated into one large space that everyone would occupy together.
When it comes to creativity, diversity allows for an exchange of different ideas. Consider hiring not entirely on qualifications and skills but also the uniqueness that the individual can bring to your business. Sometimes selecting staff with homogenous characteristics, such as same backgrounds and qualifications creates a uniform team, which diminishes creative thinking.
Bottom-up Decision Making
Encourage your employees to give their input on matters that would otherwise only be discussed by upper management.
“Organisations usually follow a hierarchical structure,” says Nkala. “It’s a given that the teams at the top come up with the best ideas or come up with the correct decisions, but there is nothing further from the truth than this.”
If you give your employees at the bottom of the structure an opportunity to role play leadership and give them a problem to solve, you will find a completely unique perspective on the solutions required, which can be very valuable for your business.
A Positive Space to Work
Psychological studies have proven the effects of a positive mood on creativity. According to the various research studies conducted, positive moods allow for greater flexibility of thinking which allows for greater perspective on matters.
Allow for areas that encourage creativity. CEO of Spartan, Kumaran Padayachee, encourages his employees to jot down their ideas on whiteboards that are placed around the office. Google, famous for its fresh workplace approach, allows its software engineers to design their own desks out of what resembles toy construction sets. Some even have standing desks while others have treadmills so that they can walk while they work.
It might not have to be as left-field as Google, but a small inclusion of something that encourages creativity could produce innovative and profitable results.