HR & Management

5 unexpected ways to help your business think and act creatively

3 min read

22 August 2018

In a business context, what is "creativity"? Marketing? Ideas? Fluff? Nul points! It is the ability to find new ways to answer difficult questions.

You need creativity every time you hit a blocker in your business. You need it to develop new products and services, as well as the delivery of successful strategies. And it is the very reason that your business exists: if you didn’t have the creativity to imagine it and make it happen, you wouldn’t be sat here reading this.

You are responsible for nurturing creativity if you manage or develop anyone. It’s not just up to HR. So how can you unlock creativity in your organisation?

1. Look out and look up

If you have limited horizons, you won’t see new ideas. So, look beyond your competitors to what is happening in related – and unrelated – categories for inspiration.

Don’t get stuck in everyday concerns and internal politics and miss seeing the opportunities and threats circling your business. Look up.

2. Address emotional distress

If creativity is crushed, people don’t enjoy work and they go through a similar pattern to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Do you ever see these in your organisation? How could you change your review process to examine your people’s creative state?

3. Switch off your screen

Do meetings in your business centre around a PowerPoint presentation, that everyone judges and then moves on to their next meeting? This isn’t going to help you come to any new conclusions or develop new ideas.

Instead, spend the majority of your meeting time thinking about how you’re going to use creativity to make new things happen.

4. Pick up your feet – and others’

Do people in your company talk about work, but then not do it? Are they what we call “foot-dragging” – passively resisting new ideas?

Creativity needs conflict – you can resolve it fast and then move on. So, recognise when you’re foot-dragging and encourage people to voice their opinions, listen, react and adapt.

5. Make meetings meaningful

Keep to a clear agenda, where one issue gets tackled at once. Don’t let discussions drag on. Agree on clear action points. Prevent showboating and contrarianism.

It might sound counterintuitive but being structured and clear in this way is how to create room for new thinking.

There’s no time to delay on working to unlock commercial creativity in your businesses. Anyone who still thinks creativity isn’t a prerequisite for business success might want to meditate on the fact that most of the companies that dominate our collective landscape didn’t exist 15 years ago.

Phil Lewis has spent more than 20 years building business cultures and is the founder and managing director of organisational performance practice Corporate Punk. The practice works with a range of fast-growing SMEs to drive momentum, productivity and growth. For more on commercial creativity, download his short book, Creativity is Power.