January 13, 2020
Creativity is Not Chaos
Courageous, growth-oriented leaders face a dilemma: they know creativity is critical to achieving an agile, thriving business in a changing world, but they are worried about losing control. Creativity, after all, is chaotic, random, and based on whims, isn’t it?
To be sustainable in an organization, creativity is systematic, disciplined, and thrives with the right kind of constraints. To achieve long-term innovation, companies must embed creative practices into three dimensions of their organizations:
The baseline is for employees to understand their unique, individual potential to be creative thinkers and workers. They need:
- to see how they already think creatively,
- to understand what creativity actually is in the context of work, and
- to learn tools and strategies to more deliberately apply their creative thinking to daily tasks.
Training in these three components increases confidence, effectiveness, and personal growth. In a tight labor market and in a time when people seek to derive purpose and meaning from their jobs, providing such training is a key differentiator for companies.
Fostering a culture that supports creative thinking begins with leadership. Executive support for creative thinking at work is essential for longterm success, but anyone in the organization can step up and take the lead in his or her individual role. In my book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative, I emphasize that you can be a creative leader even in interactions with one other person and I provide the tools for doing so.
Creative leadership begins with a mindset that expects individual growth in yourself and your team. It is supported by the language you use in daily interactions, including how you ask questions and respond to ideas.
To sustain an organization that is agile enough to anticipate and respond to change, it’s essential to embed creative practices into operations and processes. There is enormous innovation potential in areas other than product development, including day-to-day business operations; the employees with boots on the ground hold the key to making these improvements.
If you want your employees to tap into their observations and think differently about solving problems in their daily work, include this function as a performance evaluation metric. When doing so, pay close attention to leadership and training as described above. If employees don’t see themselves as capable of thinking differently and if you consistently shut down the new ideas that you’ve asked them to contribute, you have a recipe for failure.
It’s also important to embed strategies into operational processes, such as how meetings are conducted or how projects get done. Many companies use some degree of Lean, Agile, or Six Sigma. These are effective only when they are embedded as a consistent, operational practice. They also need to be integrated with Creative Problem Solving or Design Thinking to truly reach innovative results.
Creativity is Not Chaotic
If you get the impression that creativity means chaos due to the way it’s done at your organization, you’ll need to recalibrate. Embedding creativity strategies into training, leadership, and processes requires a clear plan and a disciplined approach. It’s not a quick fix, but is absolutely essential to surviving the next big change.
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.