Creating A Culture of Creativity

Whilst attending a conference of copywriters earlier this year I overheard someone tell a fellow member of the venue staff that she (a manager) was a colleague who just happened to have extra managerial responsibilities. She then added that any colleague has the right to point out operational problems, suggestions to solve those problems and would be rewarded for coming to her with viable ideas for improvements. She then further added that if the suggestions turned out to not be viable the reasons would be fully explained.

Now, two things really struck me about this exchange; how does an organisation translate this positive and inclusive aspiration of full team involvement into a workplace culture and how extremely important the latter idea of full explanations is.

light bulb moments

The reason that it is so important to explain to colleagues why their idea is not being used is more than just a courtesy and certainly more than an attempt at boosting morale. It is vital for any organisation because of the following;

  • by explaining why/why not requires evaluation of the idea

  • it is this evaluation which may well uncover a detail which has further potential

  • all ideas can be stored away for future use, and if these ideas have been properly evaluated then potential for application in a changing environment has had a headstart

  • staff members will feel listened to and valued beyond their remuneration package

  • future leaders will be discovered

So, how then can staff of all levels feel encouraged to pitch in with ideas to improve performance, productivity and problem solving? Or to be more exact, how can any organisation create a culture that enables the mail room clerk to feel as entitled to put forward ideas as the CEO?

All workplaces are different but that does not mean that innovation has to be stifled with ‘that’s just the way we do things here’ or has to be frozen in Carbonite like Han Solo.

  • So one approach could be to review and evaluate existing procedures using input from all staff involved in implementing and/or working with those procedures

  • In a past article discussing the dynamics of staff meetings methods were outlined to make those meetings about ideas rather than simply a list of announcements and to make those meetings something from which innovations come. Change the staff meeting culture and it will encourage voices.

  • Managers themselves have to feel free to explore ideas presented to them without the fear that they are rocking the boat. FT correspondent Andrew Hill identified this in an article entitled Wise Leaders Understand The Power of Peer Pressure when he pointed out, and I quote here, ‘Pious chief executives have a tendency to trot out a definition of [organisational] culture as what you do when nobody is looking.’

  • Embed innovation into the workplace with incentives and rewards. Present clear problems and/or questions and ask for clear ideas from teams and individuals. With the expectation of explanation when not used and recognition when implemented a creative and innovative culture will develop.

  • Encourage staff and managers to look beyond the obvious. Trade journals are a great place to find ideas but it is sometimes from other areas we find answers. Music teachers and sports coaches know this. This is why netball coaches have trained rugby Hookers in throwing techniques for line-outs and why piano teachers have introduced dance lessons to the normally sedentary pianists they teach. Perhaps a great example of this from the business world is the Formula 1 team McLaren transforming the productivity of a toothpaste factory through its (McLaren’s) expertise in pit stops.

At ReddSugarBlack Creative Content we specialise in communication. Whether we are writing press releases or blog posts for our clients or producing podcasts and other audio-content we look at the relationships which exist between client and those they are trying to reach. It is this expertise in B2B and B2C communication which feeds into our training days and courses which specialise in intra-organisational communication.

Through practical and real world activities and exercises which borrow from a range of disciplines, including business theories, creative writing and a bucket load of common sense, we can help organisations introduce a creative culture in the workplace. A culture where a ‘eureka’ moment on the morning commute can be transformed into something dynamic and beneficial.

Further Reading

Wise Leaders Understand The Power of Peer Pressure by Andrew Hill. Financial Times 17/09/2018

How Do We Maximise Innovation In Workplace Meetings?

How McLaren Uses F1 Tech to Reinvent Global Companies

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