Creativity Can Save Your Business
In the maddening, fast-paced world of technology and finance, innovation is the Holy Grail of business dynamics. Well-established companies fear falling behind the shiny new start-ups while the upcoming brands work tirelessly not to get overrun by their corporate counterparts. With so much urgency around innovation, creativity is falling further behind in the workplace.
This is a huge mistake.
Businesses that prioritize innovation over creativity risk sinking down a rabbit hole of organizational stagnation. Companies like Blockbuster, Blackberry, and Borders didn’t just fail because of a lack of innovative ideas; they failed because they lacked imagination – the foundation of creativity and innovation.
Creativity is the thought process that sparks ideas. Innovation is the action that brings those ideas to life. To avoid a corporate demise, creativity should be at the top of the agenda at all times, nourished, and cultivated up and down the organizational chain.
With so much urgency around innovation, creativity is falling further behind in the workplace.
Here are three unique ways to start cultivating creativity in the workplace without sacrificing innovation.
Create an environment where creativity can flourish
Creativity is not linear, nor is it a skill. It thrives when it is not confined to rules, restrictions, or timetables. Unfortunately, most businesses repeal the creative process with overly scheduled agendas and processes, as if one’s creative juices magically turn on because their Outlook calendar suggests so.
Rather than scheduling meetings disguised as creative sessions, make creativity a discussion point on every meeting agenda. Then, reward employees for sharing their creative pursuits regularly.
For example, if there are employees with interesting hobbies or side hustles, have them share what they’re working on. Create space for the individual(s) to highlight what they’re excited about, showcase their work, or begin a discussion about that particular project.
This might feel like a waste of time, but it actually creates a cultural environment within the organization where creative pursuits are openly shared and discussed, which may very well spark new ideas. You may uncover an engineer’s side hustle as a photographer is well suited for a digital marketing campaign where visuals are a critical component. Or, an administrative assistant who moonlights as a copywriter can help revamp the company’s website and marketing copy.
Amp up the creativity by engaging the senses
As children, my brother and I created board games out of cardboard boxes – complete with its own rules and reward systems. Then, we’d play it for months with friends until eventually, the cardboard broke down or we moved on to something else.
Tapping into our childlike imagination as adults requires that we engage our senses the way children do in play.
In the making of the board game, we indulged the right side of our brains to cut, paste, draw, paint, and create a game that would relieve our temporary state of boredom and keep us occupied.
Creativity indulges the senses. Sitting in a conference room or Zoom call with laptops, phones, and an agenda disengages the senses. Instead, find ways to tap sound, smell, taste, or sight into the creative process at work. At KCD PR, we’ve experimented with a new approach to our creative sessions using scented candles, background music, snacks, and zero devices allowed – in an effort to spark the imagination by tapping into our senses.
Encourage white space
An unfortunate side effect of corporate America of the 60s and 70s is the idea that employees should be tethered to their desks between the hours of 9 and 5, working the entire eight hours of the day with a one hour break in between.
Some people call this “the good old days” and others call it “prison.”
In the modern age of business – where everyone is connected to their phones 24/7 and remote work is the new normal – business leaders must break away from this “prison” work mentality and allow more white space into employees’ days.
White space looks like unscheduled blocks of time throughout the week or between launches that enable employees breathing room to reflect on the work, reassess, and reflect on the projects they’ve done. It’s not uncommon for employees to move from one project to the next, and the leadership team to book back-to-back calls, meetings, and travel with no end in sight.
Built-in white space prevents burn out but also creates the room for creativity to rebuild itself.
Creativity is the culture
There are no easy answers or fast fixes to cultivate creativity in the workplace. It exists within the company culture, prioritized from the top down, and encouraged across every department and level.
As technology and financial companies look to re-engage employees after a difficult and complicated year, creativity will set the stage for innovation to take off for years to come.