Get creative with your business – here’s how and why..
“Inventiveness” should be an integral part of every successful business.
I mean really…..who cares about creativity?
You’re not one of these arty types wandering around the Left Bank looking for your muse… you’re a business owner! You want results!
Except that, actually, when you think about it…the two go hand in hand.
Creativity – defined in the Oxford dictionary as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness” – should be an integral part of every successful business.
And you’re probably doing it already.
Read on to discover our tips for increasing creativity in your workplace without going anywhere near a palette and easel…
Creativity means collaboration
If a company is made up of teams who always work separately, those teams can only ever be creative within their own remit.
Create a culture in which everyone feels part of one big team and in which different departments communicate and share knowledge and suddenly each team and each project, is open to great ideas from everyone in the company.
Every person in your company can learn something from every single other person in the company – so see if you can facilitate opportunities for different teams to interact, for example by encouraging hotdesking, or taking people from different teams for lunch or coffee together.
This also just helps people get to know each other on a personal level, which is positive because colleagues who get on and trust each other will work better together and feel more comfortable sharing ideas.
Creativity means ideas
Encourage your team to write down ideas they have for the business – at any time, about anything – and put them in an ideas box.
And don’t let this be a black hole into which the ideas disappear, never to be seen again. Take these suggestions seriously. If you can’t discuss them all, at least discuss the best ones, ideally with input from across the company and be genuinely open to their possibilities.
We’ve all been in that workplace where the management asks for ideas, then demolishes them one by one with “tried that before, it didn’t work” or “can’t do that because”. If it’s been suggested before, doesn’t that indicate that there might be something in it? If it’s a good idea but there’s an obstacle to implementing it, how about finding ways to get around that obstacle?
Let people’s imagination run.
Ask them what they’d do if budget, time and resources were unlimited and work backwards from that.
California business coach Dr Lynn Jones had this advice on www.forbes.com on improving creativity:
“Bring a beginner’s mind to problems, and channel your inner lifelong learner. Ask: what would we do if we knew we couldn’t fail?”
Encourage healthy debate.
A lot of companies have an environment where senior people can’t be challenged; creativity can never flourish in such conditions.
Make sure people who are less confident at speaking in groups are brought into discussions; they are just as likely to have good creative ideas as those who are more confident.
Finally, make sure you reward and give full credit to the originators of successful ideas. But make sure you also show appreciation for the ideas that weren’t taken further. Their very existence makes the generation of successful ideas easier.
Creativity means risk-taking
When you keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, you won’t find a better way.
As LaKesha Womack, founder of North Carolina business consultancy Womack Consulting Group, told Forbes:
“There can be 20 ways to get from your home to your office but because we have always travelled one route or everyone travels that route, we go in the same direction every day. If you provide your team with the end point and allow them to craft the route, you are more likely to receive creative solutions.”
To grow and develop, you have to take risks, so make sure you have a culture in which your team isn’t afraid to do this and are allowed to fail which is, after all, really just another way of learning.
As Joseph Zeoli, director of technology at Philadelphia creative agency 20nine, put it:
“Have a ton of terrible ideas. The more ideas you can think of, the more chance you’ll have a good one.”
Creativity means caring
It’s hard to be truly creative when you don’t feel fully invested in something.
If you want your team to be creative, they need to feel they’re doing something meaningful, about which they can feel enthusiastic; they also need to feel that they and their talents are appreciated.
And, as we’ve said before and will doubtless say again, for some people that’s about money but for many people it isn’t.
People who produce creative work, such as writers and designers, often feel a deep sense of pride in their work; one of the things they will appreciate most is simply being given the time and resources to produce something of real quality.
Hire hard-working people who care – and who challenge you. You want people who share your outlook and values but who also bring new perspectives.
Make sure you have great managers who allow creativity to flourish and don’t micromanage – how can someone be creative when they have a manager standing over them telling them what to do?
Creativity means wellbeing
Our brains work best when we look after them.
If your team is overworked and stressed, how can they produce their best work?
Create a working environment which allows them to be healthy, both mentally and physically – don’t have a long hours culture and don’t allow the sort of bullying and unpleasant behaviour which is now sadly so common in the workplace.
And finally, never be afraid to take a tea break if you’re struggling for inspiration! We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve taken time away from a task we were stuck on only to come back to it a bit later and find ourselves able to approach it with fresh zeal.
We don’t know why it works, but it does.
At THP Chartered Accountants, we’re more than just number crunchers. We’ve developed close, strong relationships with many of the business owners we work with, becoming trusted advisors not just on their finances but on all aspects of running a company.
About Mark Boulter
Mark Boulter is responsible for the efficient running of the firm’s infrastructure, and ensuring that THP delivers the best client service. Promoting the vision and culture across all branches, people are the key: “I like people who have a fresh approach and I’m happy for them to run with their ideas,” he says.
Communication across departments is crucial and Mark pioneers this. He ensure that people and departments not only talk to each other, but that they share ideas– whether they’re about marketing, finance, sales, strategy or any other topic that can result in us offering a better service. “I think helping to develop the next generation of THP people is essential to our success,” Mark adds. “We’ve a lot of talented people and our way of doing things increasingly attracts ambitious newcomers who are looking for a fresh approach. That’s good for us and even better news for our clients.”