A study carried out by analyst group Forrester on behalf of Adobe in 2014 found that companies that foster creativity outperform their rivals in terms of both revenue growth and market share.
Fifty-eight per cent of respondents from “creative” companies (those that encourage a creative culture) said their revenues have strong growth (10 per cent or more year-on-year) versus only 20 per cent of less-creative businesses. Creative companies are also twice as likely to report a commanding market leadership position compared with their competitors.
In recent years, the focus for many companies has been on sustaining their business and simply surviving challenging times. Now, in a growing economy, how do managers recapture the magic and get the creative juices flowing again successfully in their business?
Here are a few tips as to how to do this:
(1) “What can you do?”
Instead of asking an employee directly what they are going to do to solve the problem (since this pushes them to make a judgement and be correct – very left brain), ask them what they could do or what they might do, as this encourages them to think of possible ideas, and communicates to them that you do not expect them to come to the right answer straight away.
(2) “What else can you do?”
Ask the question, “what else could you do?” Wait until the stream of ideas is exhausted and this process will again encourage real right brain thinking.
(3) Pose “what if…” type questions
These put people in pretend scenarios and takes away the fear of having to get the “right” answer straight away in order not to look foolish. “What if you had a week to solve this problem, not a month?”, “What if you had a million pounds to solve the problem?”, “What if you were Richard Branson?” These are all good questions to get the creativity flowing.
(4) Accept the answers for what they are
Accept the answers in the spirit in which you have asked them – see that they are part of a process of uncovering the best solution, and as such any idea is progress.
(5) Show you care
Demonstrate through your coaching that you are more concerned with their success and development, than you are with the problem. After all, the problem is simply today’s manifestation of that employee’s situation, competence and attitude.
(6) Don’t leave the conversation without closing
Ask for a commitment. If the solution has popped out you can simply ask when the employee is going to put it into action. If the solution is still unclear, you should at least ask what their next step will be, or how they will move things forward.
(7) Encourage regular brainstorms
Use the internal brand of ‘jumpers for goalposts’ in meetings to signify a ‘time out’ – a ten minute brainstorm. This will communicate that anything goes and that we can have a bit of fun.
Stephen Archer is a director at Spring Partnerships.