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Blog 07: Creativity – a vital element for businesses

We talk a lot about creativity, but do we really know what it is? It raises many questions like: what it is, can anyone be creative or is it reserved for “creative types”, can you create structure or processes to unleash more creative breakthroughs…

Creativity the fuel that drives innovation and growth, that enables organizations to change and adapt. An element that spawns new businesses and industries. Simply put, creativity is generating novel and useful ideas. Notice that these two need to marry to be highly creative – an invention without novelty or an idea without execution is just a start.

So, needless to say, all organizations need to evoke and foster creativity. Leaders are in a key role in this. Good news is, that you can actually train your creativity and nurture it. It is like a muscle that grows as trained. Creativity is not also something magical that just happens, it is a process and like any other process it can be unlocked with proper tools and framework. 

Your network can help you to be more creative

Leaders need to stay creative themselves in order to lead a creative organization. But how to be creative and open for new ideas? 

At first you need to knowledge that ideas do not grow in a vacuum! So meet people! All kind of people in your network, even those you haven’t met for a while. Converse to be inspired. 

Use your network wisely to both generate new ideas but also to process your ideas. So managing your network is also a big part of creative process – acknowledging the outer circle for inspiration and inner circle for constructive feedback and support. It is great to expose yourself to different opinions and views when generating ideas, so meeting all kind of people will help you. When you have gotten a great idea, you don’t want to show it to everybody. When you get excited about something and you want to refine it, you need to turn to your inner circle of friends that can give you supportive feedback.

Getting out of your routines is also a good way to maintain creativity. You can even schedule it – how about leaving your calendar free for every Tuesday afternoons and use the hours for random walks, gallery tours or conversations with different people in your network.

The best leader is no longer the person with the best ideas but the person with the most creative team

For a leader the most important lesson is to acknowledge the transitions on leadership. Organizations no longer need a leader that has the best ideas but a leader that can create a team that has the best ideas or an environment that is creative.

Luckily there are steps that you can take to bring out creativity in a team in a brainstorming situation for example. Mollie Amkramt, The Senior Business Design Lead at Ideo, share their seven rules of brainstorming:

  • Deferred judgement
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Build on the idea of others
  • Stay focused on the topic
  • One conversation at the time
  • Be visual
  • Go quantity over quality

But most of all you as a leader need to set the tone that is safe and emotionally authentic. Generating ideas is very emotional process which do not work well without safe and supportive atmosphere. 

Creating creative culture

But how do you as a leader maintain and nurture creative culture in an  organization? It has a lot to do with values that need to support creativity. Pixar for example says they embrace failure and learn from them. Ideo puts a lot of effort to emphasize teamwork and supportive culture. It is not about me but we, what we can do together.  But as failure is a crucial part of creativity, the most important thing is to have an safe zone for even the craziest ideas and acceptance for failing.