Creativity is a business necessity. However, it involves more than simply asking for more creative ideas or hiring “creative” people: you have to create a culture that supports creativity. Creativity is fundamental to who we are as human beings, and should not be confused with being artistic; everyone can be creative – engineers, lawyers, CLOs, physicians, linguists, chefs, shipping managers, photographers, etcetera.
Problems arise when new employees are told to be creative, but then confined to “do things the way they’ve always been done.” On the other hand, many executives lament the abundance of “creative solutions” that lack practical application or an available team capable of production. So how do you find balance between compliance, innovation, and execution?
It is helpful to allocate a percentage of time devoted to creative activities. This will allow for the brain to be relaxed enough to find solutions in complex problems. In fact, companies like 3M and Google regularly allocate time where employees can take walks, play games that do not require a lot of attention, or to simply lay back in a comfy couch and let their minds wander to wherever it wants to go. 3M’s “15 Percent Rule,” where employees can devote up to l5% of their time pursuing ideas that both interest them and may have potential value for the company, has had significant, tangible results: 25% of 3M’s revenue comes from products that are less than 5 years old (citation). That’s a lot of innovation.
Allowing for creative expression within your organization will result in your staff being happier and more productive, as you are tapping into their “hobby” mindset – in which those bored at work, go home to work on projects that make them feel inspired. Ideally, you could create an environment that would be stimulating enough while they are at work. In this interview, Rick Lozano from Rackspace describes his frustrations and solutions for producing a healthy work environment that encourages creativity.
How do you invite creativity into your workplace and how do you balance it against the demands of deadlines?
Here are some helpful links on how to inspire creativity in the workplace and transform your culture to allow for more innovative thinking: