What stops companies and people from being innovative? Are creativity and innovation something you can force inside an organization? What do innovative companies have that we may not have?
Imagine your organization is like a house. The first floor is your daily operations, the actions and activities that occur to keep your business running every day. The additional floors are other vital aspects such as: sales, marketing, development, engineering, etc. But the fireplace is where people come to sit in the glow of warmth and light. This is where creativity and innovation among your colleagues thrive. This is where new product ideas, creative layouts, and visions for the future get generated and shared.
But what keeps all of these floors sturdy? It’s the house’s foundation, which is communication. When you have a shaky or unsettled foundation, you have cracks and issues throughout the entire structure. When communication protocols are flawed, people are more concerned with patching up holes in the walls and won’t be able to enjoy the cozy warmth of the creative fires. A solid foundation enables creativity to flow. When communication protocols are flawed, the flame of innovation and creativity can grow dim and cold in every room in the house. Let’s look at 5 ways you can ensure a solid foundation, which will enhance innovation and creativity within your organization.
1. Establish a communication protocol which supports and values innovators.
If I have a thrilling and innovative idea, where do I share it? What happens when I share it during a meeting, and it is immediately shut down due to being off topic? How does that affect my mentality?
Felecia Bender, Ph.D., once said, “Creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of inner security and confidence.”
Establishing a safe and open method for new ideas will not only increase innovation, it will inspire others and boost morale. Reward every step of the process as well, not just as additional revenue is generated. This could look like an open monthly meeting, an online feedback system, or establishing a network of advocates. With established and clear systems in place, people will feel more valued and creativity will flourish.
2. Embrace different personality styles.
I love the quote from Bill Gates, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” Having a meeting with only the most creative people on how to inspire creativity will not lead to inspiring creativity for every personality type. Encourage meetings with participants from different levels, positions, and personality styles. They will bring different perspectives, insights, and ideas that you may not have considered and can save you time and energy along the way.
I once worked for an organization that designed new business cards with the names in red ink. In the United States this indicated power, leadership, and determination. In China, writing a person’s name in red is extremely offensive. Had we included our global team in the design meetings, or even a check point before going to production, we would have saved a lot of time, money, and effort spent repairing our relationship with the team in China.
Would your average employee know or be aligned with your strategic initiatives? Are those shared, modeled, and embraced by leadership? Be transparent about your key initiatives. Share them, or invite staff to participate in the selection and design of them. Check in on those initiatives once per quarter, companywide with a survey or open meeting. If employees understand the direction, they will often generate ideas on how to help.
4. Wellness Plan.
Is creativity included in your workplace wellness plan? It should be. Adding learning activities, design thinking, or inspiring art into the workplace can show you value and support creativity. Consider assigning an outdoor meeting area, or changing up art in a meeting room ever quarter. Some companies are even adding dance rooms, ping pong tables, or punching bags. Not only does it boost creativity and inspire innovation, it also has an added health benefit. Consider reviewing your wellness plan and ensuring creativity is a part of it.
5. Shake it up.
Reinvest in creativity every year. Let your advocates meet and decide how to incorporate creativity into your organization.
Creativity and Innovation are vital to an organization’s continued success and growth. Without them, productivity, communication, engagement, and leadership can grow cold and lethargic. Make a commitment to invest in your organization’s home every year. When people tap into their creative expression, it acts as fuel in everything they do.
~ Stephenie Rockwell