Creativity is not only fun, it is a key to success. According to a recent Forrester study, companies that foster and inspire creativity are 3.5 times more likely than their peers to achieve revenue growth of 10% or more.
Think about the most successful people and companies today. The one thing they all have in common is a creative concept or new way of doing something that no one else has done before.
In my world, for example, the world of PR, creativity is everything. We must ensure our team is bringing forward creative ideas for each client 24/7. Some of our greatest successes have stemmed from trying a new angle or completely flipping a story on its head. Here are some tips to infuse and inspire creativity into your team and company:
1. There are no bad ideas. When a bad idea comes across my desk, I do not dismiss it. I give feedback about why it will not work in that particular situation. I also praise the creative thinking behind the idea and encourage the person to keep ideas like it coming. The most common hesitation people have in bringing forth a creative idea is that people will think the idea is dumb. So encourage all ideas, the good, the bad and the ugly.
2. Schedule regular brainstorms. While you may think of brainstorms as a waste of time (I know I used to), there are ways to make them efficient and useful. I’ve learned that even if the perfect idea does not come out during the brainstorm, it’ll get the team’s creative juices flowing. Ideas will continue to come over the following hours and days. Setting aside this time to brainstorm is critical for creativity, as it allows the team to step away from their daily to do list and think beyond their next high priority action item.
3. Involve everyone! I work at a unique company where everyone is invited and encouraged to bring any and all ideas to the table. For brainstorms, I involve everyone on the team including interns. I have found that some of the most creative ideas often come from the younger members of the team who can bring a fresh perspective and may look at something in a completely different way than someone who is more, shall we say, seasoned. For this same reason, it is also helpful to bring people from outside of the team to your brainstorms.
4. Entice with incentives. At Vantage PR, we recently launched a program to encourage and inspire creativity on a monthly basis. For company-wide initiatives, for example our upcoming 25th anniversary, we solicit creative ideas from everyone on the team anonymously. Once the ideas are collected, the entire team votes on their favorite. The person with the winning idea wins a cool prize, and their creative idea is implemented.
5. Foster an open environment. Office environment is something that has been written about a lot. While open layouts tend to encourage more interaction and opportunity for ad hoc brainstorms, you can engender a creative environment whether you have an open concept, individual offices, cubicles, or a shared office space. It is more about creating a positive, open cultural environment where people feel comfortable bringing their ideas to the table. Company retreats are a great opportunity to encourage sharing and ideas. We also have monthly “Shakedowns” where everyone shares their “pits and peaks” for the month. The creative ideas that come out of those conversations – someone offering a creative solution to someone else’s challenge – often blow me away.
Final message? Do not underestimate the power of creativity and the importance of nurturing it within your company. Do you have other tips for fostering creativity? Please share – I would love to hear them and try them out!