Unlock your hidden creativity step 3 – encourage an environment of creativity, not NON-innovation.

Sadly, many companies make gestures towards encouraging their people to be innovative and look for new ways of doing things … whilst failing to provide an environment where this is even remotely possible.

It’s like taking a seed and shoving it in a pile of rubble with no water or soil, and hoping that something’s going to grow. It’s just not going to happen, is it?!

To my mind, the biggest single factor preventing companies from allowing a more innovative environment is FEAR. And yet, as I said in my last blog post, we’re not looking to open Pandora’s Box here, haemorrhaging money on stupid ideas that will amount to nothing, and causing needless conflict between people with different ideas and perspectives.

We ARE looking to encourage people to think creatively on the route to innovation, competitive edge, and business profit.

Companies need to get it into their heads that CREATIVITY IS MEASURABLE in terms of its outputs, and not some random free-for-all with pointless or even dangerous agendas that will lead to some sort of workplace revolution.

So here are 5 critical areas which need to be addressed if organisations are going to actually BE creative and ENCOURAGE innovation … rather than just tyre-kick and pay lip service to it.
 
1. Senior Management: talking the talk or actually walking the walk?!
If senior management are serious about encouraging creativity and driving for innovation, then practical measures need to be put into place to help bring this about.

Unfortunately for most, adding a competency or two into the performance management framework  or sticking a couple of questions into a 360 degree questionnaire don’t go far enough. There’s no point encouraging people to do these things if they aren’t able to take their ideas anywhere.

Processes need to be put in place to capture and channel that creativity and new ideas wherever they arise, so that they can be taken forward and developed into innovative approaches, processes and products for the company in question.

Failure to do so leaves people who do have ideas frustrated and annoyed at having nowhere to take them and grow them.
It only takes someone with creative, profit-making ideas to be slapped down once or twice … for them not to bother submitting ideas again.  And whose loss is that?
 
  
2.  The physical workspace
OK, so not every company is going to be comfortable with the idea of having creative play areas and ‘nap-pods’ on site.  However, space and resources are important factors.

Does your office layout have space for creativity? Is there scope to leave the formal environment to thrash out and capture ideas? Are there resources at hand to help the creative thinking process?

I once worked (as head of marketing and fundraising) in an open office where, due to the confines of the building, the marketing team were in the same open plan office as the finance team.

How sensible was that?! My team needed to be able to devise and discuss ideas and throw them around a little, whilst the finance team needed peace and quiet to work through the figures. NOT a happy combination.

Creative spaces and resources DON’T have to cost prohibitive amounts. A simple re-arrangement of workspace, for example, moving people into the vicinity of others with whom they don’t usually come into contact can spark ideas.

Coupled with the right attitude and processes, a small change or two can make a big difference to creative output.
 
3. Rules vs experiments
Creativity develops its own rules.  There is no need to stipulate in advance what should and shouldn’t be happening, or to be prescriptive about how it happens.

If yours is a rule-bound organisation, just try and stop yourself imposing boundaries on innovation and creativity just for the sake of it.

Please.

Try.
 
4. Open the door to creativity at your own speed … but open it.
I’m guessing that some companies are just champing at the bit to encourage their people to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things, and are genuinely committed to making it happen, and to exploring ways to genuinely embed creativity into the workplace.

Others would like to give it a shot, but have much further to go. They might have to turn the tanker of  a culture of NON-innovation first.

For them, smaller steps are necessary in order to avoid unsettled feelings that stability and order are going out of the window … which of course they’re not.

It is important, though, to open the door, albeit at your own pace. Don’t be afraid – no one’s going to get hurt!
 
 
5. Monitor results.
This is a statement of the blindingly obvious.

I’m not talking about creativity for the sake of it here. I’m not talking about hardworking staff being let off the hook of day–to-day tasks in order to have some sort of agendaless  ‘jolly’. I’m not talking about turning well-established, stable businesses into a chaotic madhouse of ideas with no substance.

I’m talking about harnessing creativity so that it leads to innovation that has a tangible business benefit.

And THAT is something that can and should be considered in all sectors, and by all organisations.
 
To talk about Yara’s creative facilitation, and ways to embed creativity and innovation in YOUR business, please get in touch via http://www.yaraconsulting.com

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