Creativity at Work: From Buzzword to Boardroom

creativity at work

Creativity. No longer limited to a marketing department buzzword, creativity in business has evolved beyond a nebulous concept applicable only to a specific subset of companies focused on innovation into a bona fide value add.

In addition to giving companies a distinct competitive advantage, studies now show that the more creative the company, the more inclined it is to succeed financially. Among companies who tip the scales creatively, 67 percent had above-average organic revenue growth and 70 percent had above-average total return to shareholders according to a 2016 McKinsey study. 

Whether you find yourself in a traditionally creative line of work, or your industry is most creative when planning the company holiday party, there are many ways to improve the day to day flow of creative energy. Here are a handful.

Foster Diversity of Thinking

Assemble cross-functional teams with a variety of men and women with different backgrounds. Think about adding a designer to your budget meeting, or an accountant to your project management scrum. By increasing the range of knowledge you draw from, you’ll naturally encounter a wider variety of ideas and ultimately solutions to the challenges inherent in innovating well. This can also prompt your employees to break free from corporate “group think” and develop more creative approaches to their daily work. 

Encourage Creative Surroundings

Contrary to recent trends, open floor plans might not be the solution to promoting creativity at work. In fact, 60% of respondents in Red Bull’s Hacking Creativity survey said that private environments helped them do their best creative work.

Give your team time to take a walk or work outside- providing a wide variety of third spaces (somewhere that isn’t home or an office) can be a great way to model flexibility and get creative juices flowing. Consider adding a gym, sauna, or other wellness amenity to the workplace to offer employees somewhere to relax and recharge their creative energy. 

Celebrate Emotional iQ

Research shows that better emotional intelligence can result in an elevated and more sustained level of creativity at work. Celebrate emotional iQ by promoting self-awareness, focus, good communication, and stress relief methods at work.

You’ll be rewarded by a team that is in a collective better mood- and happier employees can dedicate themselves to better, more creative work. Fuel your team’s creativity by suggesting TED Talks, podcasts, and books that can help them better understand the value and methodology behind creativity at work. 

Retrain Your Brain

As our society becomes more hard-wired for constant stimuli and rapid responses, it’s important to save room for reflective thought and the type of expansive thinking that lends itself to creativity. CEO and productivity expert Chris Lewis recommends minimizing how frequently you check your email, and essentially retraining your brain to enjoy the potential in having a blank slate in your mind, rather than filling that space with tasks or allowing interruptions from the noise of constant communication.

Build a Culture that Values Creativity

The companies most dedicated to creativity imbue creative practices into everything they do, starting at the very top.

In the aforementioned McKinsey study, it was noted that top performing companies in their study stood out amongst their peers by prioritizing creativity in their boardroom. 60% of the companies in the top quartile of the study self-identified as industry shapers or innovation leaders within their field. And on average, their marketing budgets are 2.5 times higher than peer firms- with a focus on data science, and a goal of providing best-in-class marketing leadership as an integral ingredient in the recipe for success.

On a daily level, encourage brainstorming, and in general, don’t be afraid of failing, a.k.a. experimenting- the freedom to iterate and ideate can enhance creativity in a big way.

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