In keeping with our innovation theme this week, let’s take a more in-depth look at the driving force behind innovation: creativity.
We live in a world saturated with messaging. It’s this saturation, argues Jez Frampton, CEO of Interbrand, that makes creativity more important than ever before. The market is not necessarily a meritocracy (as much as we like to think it is sometimes); it’s often the case that the product presented most creatively is the one that is heard above the noise. This makes creativity, not product features, one of the most powerful differentiators your company can showcase.
As we said in our previous post, this underscores the value of creativity in your employees. By inviting “disruptive innovation” and giving dreamers a little latitude, your business can be poised to capitalize on its creative cache. But what specific processes can managers implement that will lead to productive creativity and how effective are they?
Smart brainstorming – Brainstorming in a group setting doesn’t necessarily yield the most creative input from employees. Contributors are often inhibited by social norms and professional etiquette, leading them to offer more “safe” ideas. For brainstorming to work best, Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind suggests online brainstorming. This alleviates some of the in-person social tensions and allows all contributors to speak with equal voice.
Diversifying your talent pool – Creativity happens when different perspectives meet. Invite employees outside of your creative team to take part in the collaborative process. It can be argued the creative process begins when bringing on new employees. Are their experiences and backgrounds the same as the rest of your team, or will they bring something more than their talent to the table?
Encouraging failure – This is a very start-up mentality, but is also utilized by major tech giants like Google. Obviously the goal with any idea should be to succeed however your company defines success, but safe bets usually yield low returns. If you want to hit a home run, you’ll have to take a few risks. Some will pan out, others won’t. Being able to give a seemingly outlandish idea a shot and having the knowledge of when to pull the plug if it’s not working is the difference between acceptable failure and catastrophic failure. Employees need to know that failing is okay if you want them to truly open up their minds to you.
Understanding the psychology of creativity – Ciotti gives a very in-depth analysis of this in the link above, but there are some managerial takeaways worth highlighting. Managers need to understand that productive practices for creative people differ from more traditional notions of productivity. For example, breaks are important (the so-called “incubation” phase of creativity). Walking away from an idea for a period of time, focusing on something else, then coming back to it has been proven to be a more effective than continuing to concentrate on a problem for which you can’t find an answer. Be open-minded to the needs of employees charged with being creative (but also don’t let them abuse those needs).
Creativity can have a big impact on your bottom line. Consumers have more choices than ever before, and creativity can be your ace-in-the-hole for rising above the marketing and advertising noise. By implementing these practices across the organization and tailoring them to fit your corporate culture, you are building a business that is prepared to embrace the creativity of its employees.