Yesterday we looked at a creative culture from an individual level, but today I want to zoom out and look at it from a broader, organizational level. What are some practical considerations if we really and truly want our teams to be creative?
It’s not as simple as telling them to be more creative, or nodding and smiling when someone mentions creativity or innovation. There has to be an intentional focus on it, or it will become an afterthought. You’ll have little bursts of creativity here and there from individuals, but nothing on the level or organizational creativity.
Here are some things you could take a look at:
I’ve jokingly said before that cubicles are tiny, cubed prisons where ideas go to die. And by jokingly, I mean I’m being completely serious. It’s not that you can’t use cubicles, but you’ve got to figure out ways to get the team out of them sometimes. Or have really low walls. Or something.
Have meetings other places. Go outside for the love of pancakes and pogo sticks. When it’s feasible you could even let folks — gasp — meet offsite. You know, get some fresh air and all that. Studies show that humans think and work better that way.
Even the workspaces themselves need to be examined. What do they feel like? Just looking at them, what sorts of actions or behaviors or attitudes do you think they encourage? What symbolism do they bring? Are they sterile? Bright? Uniform? Individualized? Formal? Relaxed? Closed in? Open? Buzzing fluorescent lights? Natural light? Colorful? Colorless?
It all matters. It all combines to create a certain atmosphere. That atmosphere can be one that either encourages or stifles creativity.
2. Interaction with others who think differently
How easy is it for people to get together to talk, think, and create?
Some of us don’t have time to stand around and talk about solar-powered umbrellas. We have work to do, Matt.
Yeah, sarcasm’s like a second language to me, so I’m reading you loud and clear there. And don’t be silly — a solar-powered umbrella doesn’t even make sense.
I hate how something that is not just helpful, but necessary for an organization to be innovative is relegated to something that’s only done “if there’s time.” No, no, no. If it’s important, we make time for it. Simple as that. We make time for the most inane crap every day, but we can’t find time for that?
You may not be on the internet during work hours.
Really? You want them to be creative but don’t want them to access the single largest source of information and inspiration in the modern era? Seems a little off, no?
Or this one:
Social media networks are off-limits.
Oh geez. Think about how odd that must sound to employees, and especially those who were born later than others of us. They’re told to collaborate with others, but they’re told that they are not to access their largest network of people. Hm. I mentioned this in a #TChat a while back, but telling employees today that they can’t use social media is like telling employees a couple decades ago that they couldn’t use the telephone.
This is a tough one, because there’s so much uncertainty around it; but if you want something to happen, you’ve got put any number of things into it. Maybe that’s people, maybe it’s time, perhaps it’s money, and maybe it’s all those things.
Very few interviews I’ve seen or heard of do anything substantive in the way of figuring out if candidates have any inclination toward creativity. Want a creative culture? Then interview and hire people who demonstrate creativity and a desire to exercise creative ability!
Like anything else, leadership is absolutely critical here. If leadership is risk-averse, uber-conservative, loves tradition, prefers the status quo and so on; chances are that creativity will not thrive there.
On the other hand, if leadership is OK with people flexing their creative muscles everyone once in a while when they have free time, creativity will likely flourish, right?
No, sillies. It won’t because the above is still way too passive. It’s not enough for leadership to be OK with creativity. They should be pushing it, facilitating it, asking about it, and demonstrating it themselves in their own ways. We lucked out at Mazuma. Our CEO encourages creativity. It’s actually an element that we’re weaving into the culture. And he’s not just paying lip service to it. You should see what he let me do to my office.
So what say you? Agree? Disagree? What would you add to the list?