Guide to Creativity in Business Part 1

Guide to Creativity in Business created by Maria Fonseca and Paula Newton

Living in an era that praises so much a positive mind frame, probably you, just like me,  have been by now showered repeatedly by omnipresent enthusiastic stories impelling us to dare to imagine a certain kind of world:

“Imagine a life where all your time is spent on the things you want to do”.

Nowadays, examples of successful companies and people that were able to project and construct the life they have always dreamed, pop up like popcorn all over the digital place where we all navigate these days: the internet.

The message that subtly is conveyed in such narratives, is that if one dares to be creative enough to get out of our comfort zone, we are able to achieve our dreams, our creations.

But strangely as it might sound, to be creative, and to take your life into your own hands, your company into your own hands, is not that easy, even though it is essential in the world of today.

How can we foster our own creativity?

And, what are our creative business dreams after all ?

The bottom line of the question is that one has to come to terms with the following: Creativity, as Matisse one said, takes courage.

Creativity in Businesses

“Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for business people looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.” Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp quote Intelligenthq

Why is creativity so important to businesses?

Creativity drives businesses forward and offers new ideas to difficult problems. Creativity offers organisations the chance to gain competitive advantage by doing something faster, to a higher standard, or just differently.

It is accepted that creativity gives entrepreneurs their impetus to launch start-ups that transform the way that we think or do things.

But creativity unfortunately doesn’t come to us that easily. The problem is that creativity is not particularly encouraged or valued in our society. Seth Godin argues that the problem starts in schools. As he explains:

“Large scale education was never about teaching kids or creating scholars. It was invented to churn out adults who worked well in the system.”

Godin argues that we have it all wrong!

As he explains it, the school system delivers people that are ready and waiting to be told what to do, and yet if at work you do the kind of job where you are told exactly what to do, then eventually the boss will find a way to replace you with someone that is cheaper than you.

This does not lead to a buoyant or very enjoyable workplace. Compliant workers also do not encourage creativity in any sense, as they are not programmed to question the way things are done. In Godin’s view, the school system needs to be shaken up so that creativity flourishes. Which will later on impact how businesses are created.

Linking creativity to innovation in business

Understanding how the school system works with standardised testing and conformity, it should come as no surprise then that Rice University, the University of Edinburgh and Brunel University carried out a study that showed that “creativity and innovation are not sufficiently integrated in either the business world or academic research.

The authors of the study found that creativity and innovation are very complex and have multiple levels, and that these require skillful leadership to draw out and provide benefits to the ways in which organisations work.

However, as the study discovered, organisations are not very good at being able to utilise creative ideas so that they really can positively benefit a company.

Employee creativity is not always encouraged, and if ideas are raised they are not always explored and implemented properly.

The study identified that one of the challenges is that organisations focus too much on current goals and that this leads them away from the level of risk taking required to be able to truly embrace creativity.

Just a handful of companies are good at this and they allow employees to explore their creative ideas.

One well known example of course, is Google. The time allowed for this allows creativity to be nurtured, and when this happens there is more chance for managers to be able to transform ideas into products, processes and better service for customers.

It is suggested then, that organisations should map the real efforts they make to channel creativity down a path to performance.

Fostering creativity as a leader

Quote by Henri Matisse Intelligenthq

Organisations must be creative to flourish and develop, but for that we need leaders that understand the value of creativity.

In 2014, Greg Satell of Digital Tonto argued that:  “One reason for creativity’s growing role is the increasing need to add value”. 

He explains that design has become a primary source of this value creation, and creativity is needed for this design to be able to flourish.

Additionally Satell argues that in the semantic economy efficiencies of doing things can only be found if links can be seen to where efficiencies can occur, and that this requires imagination and creativity to be able to do.

The only way that organisations can really succeed in today’s marketplace, argues Satell, is if they are able to run with dynamic capabilities of creativity that allow them to be able to pick up on and seize opportunities in the marketplace as they arise.

In Satell’s view, the role of leadership needs to change to be able to embrace creativity.

The way he sees it, organisations need to no longer just plan and do, but they also need to continually change and adapt for the better the ways in which they create, deliver and capture value.

This means being able to cast aside old fashioned ideas of authority being so important and instead being able to focus on ways in which leadership should unlock creativity.

Guide to Creativity in Business Part 1

Please follow to the next article in this series
How to be creative in Business Part 2

Other articles in this series
Creativity in Business Part 3
Best Guide to Creativity in Business Part 4