Is creativity in business important?
Most businesses will say ‘yes’ but deep down view creativity with suspicion, because it speaks of the unknown and unpredictable and conjures up the prospect of employees not doing what needs to be done.
Because of such fears, when companies do allow creativity through their doors, they do it grudgingly and confine it to certain areas, like marketing. Even then, strict "creative guidelines" have to be followed and once decisions are made, creativity is packed away.
But does this constraining approach to creativity sit comfortably in an entrepreneurial world that’s changing faster than ever? The answer is no.
If entrepreneurial companies are to thrive, then creativity has to become a major component of their DNA.
That said, there are of course risks business face when they decide to think outside the box. And as mistakes can be very expensive, it’s easy for many executives to just pay lip service to creativity, claiming their company innovates and invents when actually all they do is keep adapting what they have done before. Don't be that person.
Here are seven mindset shifts needed to bring creativity to the forefront of your enterprise:
1. Welcome crazy ideas. As a leader, embrace creativity like a long lost friend and welcome it into your organization with open arms. And once you’ve allowed new ideas and thinking inside, let them flow freely without restrictions or sanctions. It’s only then that employees will be happy to put their head above the parapet and offer up the ideas and suggestions that will transform your company -- bringing a whole new dimension of purpose, energy and productivity to you and your staff.
2. Awaken the creative genius within. Creativity is inside all of us, just waiting to be discovered or reignited, so start looking for ways to bring it out. Encourage yourself and others to come forward with suggestions. Create an "ideas forum" to assess and evaluate what is offered, then vote on the best ideas and put them into action.
3. Realize that there are a thousand paths to creativity. Recognize that creativity takes many different forms. It doesn’t just mean coming up with razzle-dazzle advertising slogans or a new product idea. Creativity can be applied to anything -- whether it’s making the driest office process more efficient or injecting more color into the workplace to energies and inspire those who work there. Just keep your mind open and realize creativity can, and should, be implemented in every aspect of your business.
4. Use art as a catalyst. Art forces us to think differently, so looking at paintings, photographs and sculptures; watching films; listening to music and experiencing performance art are all great ways to help release your and others inner creative potential.
To bring art to your company culture, consider displaying photographs or painting from local artists. Or have a company outing at a museum or musical.
5. Shut out the noise. The word noise comes from the Latin word ‘nausea’, which seems very fitting these days, as we’re inundated with so much information. And with far too many things calling for your attention, the ability to switch off and stay in your own space is more important than ever. Try "practicing silence" daily, and you will soon see your own creativity flourish.
6. Question your old ideas. To move forward it’s often necessary to let go of the past. This can entail readjusting your thinking and "unlearning" your familiar ways of doing things. While from time to time you may end up lost, be willing to take that chance. By allowing your mind to wonder, explore and make mistakes, you will eventually find success.
7. Keep away from the ordinary. Exposure to mediocrity and dullness will kill your creativity. So rather than looking for approval from others by doing what they do, be willing to tread your own path. This isn't about being better than them but rather about embracing your uniqueness and willingness to take new risks. You need to trust your own instincts if you want to thrive. Make taking courageous choices a daily goal.