There may be no more important quality that is needed in leaders in the 21st century knowledge economy than creativity. Your ability to unleash your own creative potential and that of your team members may well be the defining difference between finishing on top or farther down in the pack.
Though history has plenty of instances where creative genius just seemed to come out of nowhere, the truth about creativity is – it is not some happenstance occurrence. In fact, organizations that are most successful in cultivating creativity to the max have intentionally built cultures in which creative genius will flourish at all levels (think Google).
In his book, Disciplined Dreaming, Josh Linkner details his five part system that nurtured a creative culture at his highly successful companies, including ePrize. As Linkner notes, “…creativity needs some type of structure or system to give it form and to encourage its development.”
Here are seven things for you to consider in developing your own creative culture:
- Make a commitment to creativity. For creativity to be job number one on your team, there has to be a full-fledged commitment from the leader. You have to be willing to go places you’ve never been, consider ideas that may seem outlandish, hold your tongue when you’ve inclined to speak and take chances that make you uncomfortable. Don’t go there until you are certain you will be “all-in.”
- Set aside time. You have to be intentional about creating regular time for brainstorming, developing ideas, taking the team to a TED Talk or other team and skill development activities. Creativity is a muscle that will grow stronger as you exercise it;
- Build a creative environment. Look around the work area for your team. Is it conducive to encouraging creativity? Be a little bold in considering redesigns that create energy, fun and the free flow of great ideas.
- No idea is a bad idea. In order to truly have a creative environment, you must have a culture where all people feel encouraged to speak up. You have to be willing to listen. Don’t get locked into a pre-determined outcome. Instead, consider alternatives. If people feel their ideas are not being given consideration, they will stop talking. Silence is the first indicator that creativity is being stifled.
- Failure is a good thing. Build a culture where failure is viewed as a learning opportunity. Often times, organizations give lip services to being okay with service, however when people fail, their hands get slapped and they may never get another chance. Embrace failure and help your team recover from their mistakes in a way that encourages their next success.
- Take risks. You have to be smart about the chances you take. You also have to be comfortable that the chance you take may not work out (see number five above). However, as Josh Linkner points out in his book, the biggest risk of all may be not taking the risk in the first place. If you don’t take the risk, chances are your competitors will.
- Break loose. Get the team out of the office. Go on a field trip. Have some fun. Engage in team building activities. A change of pace can be the best prescription for unclogging the creativity pipeline.
Everyone has some creativity inside them. What if you could boost your level of creativity by 20 per cent or 50 percent? What if you could help every member of your team do the same thing? What would the impact be on the success of your organization? Here is the good news: with the right approach you can achieve a substantial boost in creative output, and it will make a world of difference.
What are you doing to encourage creativity to the max with yourself and those around you?