Remember when you were a child and you had the ability to transform a simple cardboard box into anything (and everything!) you could imagine? Whether you were driving a formula one car or battling aliens in a spaceship, being creative flowed naturally and was fun.
Creativity has a huge impact on the world around us. From the latest smartphone release to the next chart topping novel, it’s clear that we hold creative people in high esteem. But creativity is something that sometimes gets lost in the world of business. I came across a survey by the Institute of Directors which found half of UK business leaders believe economic pressures are now forcing British companies to be more innovative. Now this is great, but shouldn’t an innovative and creative environment be the norm and actively promoted?
This got me thinking about how organisations are encouraging creativity and that most of us probably aren’t going far enough. In fact Adobe echoes that with their research which worryingly found just one in four people feel they are living up to their creative potential.
Why so Serious?
I was recently watching a video by David Parrish, a business advisor who’s been involved in the creative economy for over two decades.
In this clip, David discusses his frustration when naturally creative people lose their creative aspect of their personality when they step into typically business-like environments. I agree. Having your creative juices quashed or being afraid to express yourself as a result of being in a corporate environment doesn’t make sense – especially in a climate where creativity and innovation can be the key differentiator between one business and another.
Businesses need to do more to foster environments which allow this aspect of people’s personality to flourish. There’s a reason why Pixar’s offices are playful and interactive with themed breakout rooms and Innocent’s has been labelled as having the feel of an English Village Fair. They reflect a fun, inspiring ethos which in turn stimulates employees, creating an open, natural environment in which ideas and thoughts can flow.
I’m not suggesting we all rush to kit out workspaces with bean bags and ball pools. Instead, what I’d like to communicate is the idea that organisations need to take greater care in defining and realising their own unique creative culture and making sure it resonates with staff. This is certainly something that we’ve been trying to do with our Mindjet offices.
I was taking a look at ‘The Engaging Brand’, a blog from social business architect Anna Farmery, whose role has given her some interesting ideas about creativity. She says that creativity can never be bought or made and that rather than just investing money, we should invest time in people to encourage this – a point that I entirely agree with. I believe that in order to maximise creativity, regularly giving people opportunities to collaborate on and share ideas together is key. It’s important to remember creativity should never be constrained to a particular time or place. Often people have the best ideas when they’re thinking about something entirely unrelated and we need to be sure to give people enough time to develop and mature an idea and continue to help them evolve and collaborate with others on it regardless of where they are.
Another point Anna raises is that giving people the freedom to think differently and in a way that suits them can be vitally important. Now that’s certainly something I can relate to. Empowering people to find their own methods of inspiration and ways of working can be hugely beneficial to the creative process. For example, some people may prefer using social outlets such as twitter, or blogs to inform their creativity, while others may feed off images and platforms such as Instagram, or Pinterest. When it comes to brainstorms it can often feel a little like forced creativity – the mind goes blank and it can be tough to come up with those killer ideas. Facilitating a good brainstorming session and getting that thought process going is very much a skill – and something that we try to encourage through our own technology.
How big will the role of creativity be in the workplace of the future? Well, with its ability to help both employees and businesses grow, I’d say fostering creativity will be central. Alongside inspiring and encouraging collaboration, companies should try to enable people to work from wherever they want on whatever device they wish. Because you never quite know when creativity strikes.
So what gets your creative cogs working? Have you come up with any other ways to improve creativity and innovation across your business? Let us know!