Design a creative culture and innovation will follow, because creativity is the seed of innovation. Companies committed to fostering creativity in their people, and providing a culture for idea sharing will thrive through the individual and collective creativity of their people. If businesses embrace the fact that great ideas can come from any level of their organization, and even better ideas come from sharing and collaborating, they would be committed to fostering creativity in every employee.
In my work, I help businesses instill creativity at all levels of their organization. Companies who utilize my services are not looking to develop artists or creatives. Their desired outcome is to create a culture for innovation.
I often ask potential clients to name a company that has thrived without innovation. Or conversely, name a company that can afford to stay stagnant. There is generally a brief silence as the gap is closed and the lightbulb goes off. Because the answer is clearly – none. Innovation is the driver of growth and often survival for businesses. And what is innovation? To quote Nilofer Merchant, Silicon Valley based author and speaker on innovation, “Innovation is when you take that seemingly wild idea and take it across the finish line.”
But in companies, where do ideas often come from? The top. Management. Leaders. But we are all creative. And the next big idea might come from someone sitting at a desk 3 floors below you. The role of a leader should be to create an environment where everyone has a chance to share ideas. So how can you start?
Lead By Example. Show your employees you are willing to share ideas and have them collaborate. Start with the principle that no idea is wrong. Out of all the potential right ideas, some may just be more applicable to solve your problem or address your challenge.
Create a System to Share Ideas. There are many ways to do this. One way I suggest is to come up with a weekly question that addresses a real challenge in your organization. Make it an open ended question that elicits thoughtful answers. Some examples are:
– How can we solve _________?
– How can we make ________ better?
– How might we ________?
Post this inquiry in a prominent place with sticky notes available for people to share their ideas. Have a strategy meeting at the end of the week to review the answers and pick one to build out and implement. This will show your employees that you take their ideas seriously, and that this is not just a futile feel good exercise.
Put creative tools in the way. Make creativity part of your every day. Have areas in your workspace where there are markers, watercolors, and legos. Kick off each week with a prompt to encourage people to use this space to create and build.
In summary; creativity leads to innovation. A single shared idea can trigger others to do the same. We are all creative. And good ideas can come from any level of your organization. Give yourself and your employees a way to discover and utilize their creativity.
Watch what happens.