Lead, Create, Succeed - The Secret Power Of Creativity In The Workplace
"Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits." -Twyla Tharp
How do you define creativity at work?
Every industry, every company, every employee will have a different understanding and different connection with what constitutes “creativity”. While its origin and forming is subjective in nature, there are fundamentally appropriate ways to be creative in certain environments that can improve business services, and generate more positive, more supportive working environments for your staff.
Establishing a working culture that values and promotes creative thinking has been proven to help companies innovate, collaborate and generate more effective solutions, products or services for their customers.
It is also one of the most vital elements in creating customer/client empathy within your teams, and is central to creating internal brand advocates who both enjoy their work, and want to express themselves through their work.
But how does creativity - that most intangible and personal of inputs, decision-making, and collaboration - help every company? Is creativity, both personal and professional, not the domain of the arts, music, literature, theater and sports?
Absolutely not! Creativity, and creative thinking, is a universal force for professional good, no matter the industry you work in.
It’s wise to understand creativity through the following two professional lenses:
- Understand your Why: The critical difference between paying lip service to creativity, and truly elevating creative thinking is understanding the lengths to which your company needs creative input, and why it is so important.
- Thinking creativity has to work. For it to work, you need to analyze which forms and methods of creative thought will work for you. It’s not about taking a blanket creative approach - it’s about using targeted creativity and applying it in the most effective way possible.
What are the benefits of creative thinking in work?
- Increased morale as teams learn to work together creatively on projects,
- A more inclusive ideas-sharing environment,
- A less stressed, happier team,
- An increase in team trust and trust in management,
- The encouragement of innovative thinking,
- Increased and more inclusive problem-solving,
- The basis for genuine iterative learning.
Are there limits on creativity?
Creative thinking requires teams and manages to consider the end result - what sort of creativity is relevant for a better product or service?
Consider the creation of Toy Story 2, by Pixar - faced with an unfinished film and less than a year until release, Ed Catmull (CEO at the time) took a carving knife to the “rules” of story development, and revamped Pixar’s conceptual purpose.
One of the new foundational concepts was “a singular idea isn’t enough to create a great product. It requires a multitude of great ideas from a team of competent people”.
They decided to refocus the efforts of Pixar’s story developments on the people that create, edit, and perfect the story - how they work together, how they prioritize workloads, how they disagree and resolve conflict, and how all these elements work towards the perfect film.
They took Pixar’s vaunted production process and created the Braintrust, which is now their much celebrated process of story creation.
In short, Pixar didn’t need more creative people, or more creative animators or creators - they needed creative management.
What can managers do to include creativity into their workspaces?
According to Gallup, “only 29% of workers strongly agree that they're expected to be creative or think of new ways to do things at work”. This, of course, will put the stoppers on growth, retention of skills, and reduce the engagement of your staff.
Here are some ideas on how to include creativity into your workplace:
- Value diversity of opinion
Creating diverse teams means widening the scope of the creative input of your teams. If you work in a role that requires problem-solving, the more diverse, varied and qualified the opinions the better.
- Recognize and reward creativity, creatively!
Review your performance management and reward creative thought, especially if it results in company success. This, in turn, generates a culture of valued creativity, sparking more creativity - the creative cycle self-generates if you recognize it.
- Use every brainstorming technique to see what fits
- Re-platform ideas
This means taking traditional hierarchy structures of ideas generation (senior people get their ideas heard first) and using anonymous idea generation to see what works. This sort of depersonalized input may help larger teams get smaller voices heard.
- Creativity is diversity in action
- Encourage creativity through your spaces