We’re in a creative line of work, and for some businesses (like us), this is abundantly clear. We create campaigns, we create graphics, we create websites - we use our imaginations and our artistic sensibilities every day. But what about all the other companies out there, the ones who don’t see an obvious link between the work they do and this notion of creativity?
We hear it all the time – clients who say things like, “We’re not creative, that’s why we have you.” And frankly, that’s just ridiculous! As people of the “recognizably creative” variety, allow us to be ambassadors for creativity. We are all creative. All of us. It doesn’t matter if you build websites or car parts, in business there’s no such thing as a “non-creative” industry or company. Every time you solve a problem, you’re being creative. Every time you organize, incentivize, develop a new policy – any time you implement something new – you are being creative.
No matter what your line of work might be, from advertising to manufacturing, from social services to inside sales, there’s always room to innovate and improve the way things are done, and every effort to do so requires a form of creativity. Why then, if it’s so commonplace, do so many people assume they aren’t the creative type? It starts with a few misconceptions, the first being that creativity is something reserved for “artists” alone. According to The Mojo Company, one working definition of creativity is:
“The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.”
As you can see, it doesn’t say anything about drawing pictures or writing music; it’s about IDEAS. The second problem comes in organizations themselves. Innovation requires a certain degree of freedom, and far too many companies are so caught up in policy and getting things right all the time that they don’t give employees the leeway to explore new ideas or develop new methods. In short, bureaucracy stunts creativity. To spur that kind of innovative thinking in your organization, it’s as simple as encouraging it! Despite what they may think, pretty much all people are naturally creative – they just need to be given an environment to flourish within.
The first way to foster a creative environment is to recognize and reward creative solutions. When people know you’ll take their suggestions seriously, they’re more likely to offer them. Take Revel for an example. When we are tasked with creating a new brand or coining that perfect tagline, we brainstorm. The first rule of brainstorming is no judgment. No idea is a bad idea, and very often a “bad” idea can lead the conversation to something brilliant. Next, provide a way of submitting ideas that’s confidential or otherwise worry-free. This could be a suggestion box, or just a policy of “private meetings” with management where ideas can fly free without being shot down or held against those who come up with them. Building an atmosphere of collaboration and creativity can totally the change the way a company operates, almost always for the better. The more comfortable and happy the employees, the more freely they can communicate with each other and share ideas, the more creativity you’ll see (and with it, innovation, productivity, and overall job satisfaction).
Sure, we're one of those companies that people rely on to be "creative" in the artsy sense of the word, but that doesn't give us a monopoly. The more creativity we ALL embrace, the better ideas we'll have together.