We may be living in the most creative epoch in history. Almost each and every one of us, whether directly employed in a creative profession or not, is required to constantly learn and reinvent ourselves. Things are moving at a fast pace and the ability to innovate has become a necessity rather than a choice for ambitious professionals and businesses.
Whether you design websites, create videos, or provide writing services, creatives are often required to be brilliant at a moment’s notice. It’s not possible to create great content or produce phenomenal work on a regular basis without a creative spark. But waiting for inspiration to strike can waste a lot of time.
Here are some ways in which businesses can incorporate creativity into the company culture so that their teams can generate fresh and exciting work on the daily.
1. Encourage open communication and the free exchange of ideas
Anyone who works in a job that requires innovation would benefit from a company culture that encourages the free exchange of ideas.
Letting your team express themselves freely and discuss ideas that may seem far-out (without the fear of ridicule) is critical to nurturing the creative spirit of the company. Often the road to one sparkling idea is through a ton of bad ones. Open communication is the lifeblood of creativity, so companies need to ensure they don’t stifle it with counter-productive policies and management.
Startups usually do a better job of this than big established businesses that have allowed bureaucracy to take over.
There’s a vibe of youthfulness and eagerness in young companies where people are keen on proving themselves and taking on established norms. They push the boundaries of what is acceptable and, in the process, produce stunning, ground-breaking work. Others appear to, more or less, toe the line. Which side do you want to be on?
2. Provide structured guidance and clear instructions
In order to generate creative results, team members need to know exactly what is expected of them. In my experience, this is where many team managers falter.
When instructions are not communicated in a clear manner, or the guiding principles of a project are not conveyed in an articulate fashion, the output is bound to suffer. This wastes company hours and shakes employee morale.
In theory, this may be easy to fix. Just convey the instructions and be done with it.
In practice, however, this requires a proactive and involved approach on the part of the manager/team leader.
While it is important to convey clear instructions to begin with, it may not be enough on its own. Structured guidance and regular feedback are needed through the lifetime of a project. At the same time, the team leader shouldn’t be micromanaging the project either, because, let’s face it, what is more annoying than a manager who keeps getting in your hair all the time?
It’s quite a balancing act to strike and the manager’s people skills will make a tremendous difference here. No matter how smart your team, you will always need someone who is able to provide a guiding hand to them and ensure they function as a cohesive whole. Fostering a creative atmosphere requires being able to expertly handle your most creative people. This may involve tempering one person’s eccentricities or drawing another person out of their shell. Sage words to keep in mind, as per Harvard Business Review, “One doesn’t manage creativity. One manages for creativity.”
A clear set of instructions and guiding vision make the process of project execution much smoother. It certainly saves a lot of heartache over missed expectations and prevents acrimony/blame game from setting in among team members because of it.
3. Equip your team with the right tools
Creativity is often synonymous with chaos. But there are ways to streamline the process so that sanity is not lost to brilliance. Businesses today are lucky to have at their disposal many excellent tools that aid creativity and enhance team productivity.
Online brainstorming, for example, has been found to be an effective way to provide an organized space in which to come up with new ideas. One user favorite for this is MindMeister, the universally popular mind-mapping tool that helps teams collaborate in real time across geographic locations. Used by teams around the world, from SAP to Disney, this online brainstorming tool has helped to produce brilliant ideas and strategies.
There’s a solution out there for every conceivable need. Keep looking and trying until you find a good fit. It’s worth the wait – the right kind of software can take your team’s creativity to a new level.
4. Be patient and empathetic
We want our team to be on top of their game each and every day while turning in excellent work week after week, project after project. That is what we pay them for, after all.
But this may be too tall an expectation and is guaranteed to lead to employee burnout.
It helps to understand the nature of creativity itself. Creativity is rhythmic. No one can be brilliant at their work every single day, and if you have people who are, you are luckier than you realize (and should do everything possible to keep them happy!)
For the vast majority of us, it’s human to have an off day. It’s natural for certain projects to be better than others. Some ideas sound fantastic, others have C.R.A.Z.Y. written all over them and you wonder what the person who suggested them was thinking.
This is all part of the creative process though.
Give the team the time and space they need (within reasonable limits) to create their best work. This often implies letting them produce a few misses before they hit the bull’s eye. When you are not happy with the result, encourage them to go back to the drawing board. But keep the feedback constructive and the overall vibe positive.
A creative culture rises within a company as a result of a number of things done right:
- First, the management should emphasize the importance of creativity in the business and enshrine that in its values.
- Second, creative teams require brave and visionary managers to lead them. Those who are able to provide timely guidance and apt conditions for creativity to flourish.
- Third, creatives need quality technology to execute daily tasks and brainstorm ideas.
A combination of the above will ensure that creativity eventually becomes ingrained in your company’s DNA. Let us know how you get on!