The verdict is in: creativity is extremely important to business. From greater revenue to dealing with change, the benefits of creativity are better understood every day. Along with posts extolling the virtues of creativity are numerous guidelines to employing the creative process.
So, it’s a good thing, and it’s a practice anyone can learn and utilize—but is your workplace a creative one? What kinds of examples of creativity can be found at work?
Example 1: Creativity in Leadership.
It’s smart to start high on the chain of command when looking for examples of creativity at work.
As Scott Cook says, “If there is a bottleneck in organizational creativity, might it be at the top of the bottle?” When business leaders behave creatively, they promote creative thinking in employees—and when they oppose it, they are that proverbial bottleneck.
A creative leader takes novel approaches to interactions and work. A good example might be to open meetings with a personal or otherwise novel touch. A leader might go around the meeting and ask for a personal detail as well as a business-related development.
In doing so, they send the message that they care about the employee in a broader sense than a purely revenue-related one. This, in turn, increases the employee’s sense of value, loyalty, and drive to succeed. It’s a way of “making appreciation easy and contagious,” and it works.
Example 2: Creativity in Marketing.
Think of an ad campaign that seeks to sell a new model of car. A non-creative approach to marketing might produce a print or banner ad. Maybe it has a laundry list of features and a stock photo of the vehicle. This kind of campaign is common and not overly effective.
A creative example of automobile marketing might involve an exciting short video. It could make the car the ‘main character’ of a miniature action movie. A marketer might take the motion picture idea even further. They could work to place their vehicle in a soon-to-be-released feature film.
Why are these approaches more creative, and almost certainly more effective? The cinematic approach might be costly. But both it and the video use the creative idea of making a product into something more—a story element. Instead of an inanimate object, video and film allow for the car to be shown from multiple angles, while moving, with a driver.
It’s a fuller image of the product, and it also contains a personal touch. Associating the vehicle with its driver makes it a human tool, a part of a life; it adds relatability and humanity to the advertisement.
Example 3: Creative Problem Solving
What might a creative approach to problem solving in the workplace look like?
The next example of creativity at work involves an alternative method of approaching issues. The creative will:
- examine a problem,
- consider possible solutions,
- take some time away from the problem to allow other ideas to reenergize her brain.
When she returns to the problem, she’ll have renewed clarity and be able to zero in on the best solution. Finally, getting others’ verification of the solution’s strengths will ensure that only good ideas will be chosen.
A creative problem-solver will use a different kind of thinking to develop different kinds of solutions. They break with convention while remaining collaborative in verifying and implementing change.
Example 4: Creativity in Sales
Now, let’s consider a sales example.
Just like in the leadership example of creativity at work, personal attention is a major factor in creative sales efforts. It can surprise and delight clients to know that a salesperson remembers their birthday or other significant personal date.
Other methods of showing a personal connection lead to similar feelings of value: if a contact has indicated a strong interest in baseball, asking about their take on a recent game will likely put a smile on their face.
The more a prospective or current customer describes their interactions with your sales team as personable and conversational, the more likely they are to continue pursuing those interactions and patronizing your business.
Example 5: Project Management Can Benefit from Creativity
Creativity in project management can also transform your company’s ability to promptly complete quality projects.
In project management, creativity tends to manifest as big-picture thinking and humanistic handling of interpersonal issues.
In terms of big-picture thinking, a creative project manager thinks differently about the project than other team members. Instead of focusing on immediate concerns alone, the creative project manager thinks about the end product of the project before it’s completed.
There’s a balancing act involved in big-picture thinking. Immediate concerns need to be resolved, but not at an expense of time or money that will negatively affect the final project’s completion. And the big picture must be remain in mind, but not to the detriment of work on individual project components.
Example 6: Creativity When Handling Interpersonal Issues
In handling interpersonal issues, the creative personal touch can be a great tool for the project manager.
Whether dealing with internal or external interpersonal communication, a personal touch can grant a sense of value and appreciation, as well as help diffuse any potentially contentious interactions.
If a project manager must tell a client their project will not be ready by its deadline, she’ll almost certainly do better with an honest and empathetic approach.
Try a phrase like “We’ve had a very difficult week, and I’m sorry about this delay. I understand that your deadline was important to you and your business, and we take that very seriously.” It’s a lot more likely to cut through client frustration than an impersonal, dismissive phrase like “We’re sorry, it’s going to be late.”
Finally, consider what a creative approach to production might involve. Production would seem to be an arena in which creativity wouldn’t fit well—after all, Henry Ford’s approach to production didn’t leave much room for alternative thinking, and his model is still commonly used in many industries.
Other Ways to Bring Creativity into Project Management
There are other ways to be creative in production, though, even if they’re not directed toward assembly line practices themselves. An example of this might be to encourage a healthy amount of experimentation on the assembly line, if and when employees have time. Imagine the production floor of a small pottery manufacturer, where potters are allowed to use some clay and a machine a few times a week. Or imagine an assembly line where employees have a say in which machinery is used.
This gives employees more of a connection to their work, as they interact with the machinery in a more personal way, and shows them that they’re trusted by their employers. That trust will be reciprocated, and with it might come some fantastic designs that could be used in the company’s product line. Creativity promotes a sense of personal worth in production employees, and might even promote innovation in production itself.
It Comes Down to Personal Connection and Empathy
In these six examples of creativity in business—leadership, marketing, problem solving, sales, project management and production—the recurring theme is the personal touch. No matter where it’s deployed, creative thinking allows for greater interpersonal connection and tends to lead to higher loyalty, productivity, and even innovation.
Your employees, clients, and stakeholders want to see that you value them and their input, and that you’re focused on bringing new and non-traditional ideas to the table. These concepts will pay off at every level of your business.
How can you start promoting creative, interpersonally sensitive practices in your company?