What does a business need in order to thrive? Hard work, strategy, vision, and capital — these are all vital, but leave out one of the most important ingredients for success.
Creativity is an asset inherent to all successful businesses, and must be an integral part of every department. After all, without creative problem-solving abilities throughout the company, you'll never find workarounds and out-of-the-box solutions for the challenges you face.
So how do you promote creative thinking in business? Naturally, you can't just hold a meeting and tell everyone, "From now on, be creative."
That just won't work. You need to ensure that you weave support for innovation throughout every level of the company; and that starts with a thorough knowledge of where creativity comes from.
Know What Fosters Creativity
Innovation doesn't come from sitting in an empty, bland room and working under a tight deadline. And while you can't force it, there are some techniques that help spark new ideas.
Dreaming: There's a reason why you always have your best ideas in the shower or right before falling asleep. When you aren't focusing on a task, your mind is free to mull it over, go on tangents, and make new connections — which is more or less what creativity is. Remember that your employees will come up with their greatest ideas when you give them time to think.
Restrictions: When someone is told to think of "everything," their mind will follow the same downtrodden path. Creativity comes from needing to work within boundaries. In fact, some of the greatest examples of creativity come from restriction. For example, legend has it that Ernest Hemingway bet his friends that he could tell an entire story in only six words. The result: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." You can discover more examples of amazing work based on constraints here.
Explore New Angles: The problem with thinking outside of the box is that people generally take the exact same path out of said box, over and over again. One suggestion is to put distance between yourself and the problem. Instead of asking, "What creative way can we solve this problem?", try "What creative way would this problem be solved if this was a movie or book?" Alternatively, try looking at it in a new light. Instead of asking for a video that will go viral, ask what video you could create that people can relate to, while evoking memories of their childhood.
Get Active: Newton's first law says that an object at rest will stay at rest. In the same vein, if your body isn't moving, your brain isn't either. So, go for a walk and encourage your employees to do the same.
Create a Culture of Creative Thinking in Business
Now that you know some techniques to encourage creativity, it's time to ensure that your company culture supports innovation on the job.
Consider the office environment to start.
Bright overhead lighting and drab surroundings don't help your employees imagine great things. Research has shown that ambient noise and low lighting levels help elicit creative thoughts. And because creativity essentially comes from connecting the dots in a novel way, make sure that the work environment is interesting. Ideas don't come in a vacuum, so encourage employees to decorate their spaces, and look for ways to go beyond a typical corporate ambience.
Be welcoming of creative ideas, even if they aren't good ideas.
You don't have to implement everything you hear, but you don't want to shoot down someone's thoughts, either — you never know if their next idea could be the one to lead your company to explosive growth, and you wouldn't want them to keep great ideas to themselves for fear of negative comments. Discouragement is a creativity killer, and if employees expect constant criticism or believe that their ideas will only be picked apart and made fun of, they will simply stop producing them.
Traditional brainstorming doesn't work. Ideas will be drowned out and participants will all think along the same lines — the same lines you are trying to get away from. Try to encourage everyone to come up with a variety of their own ideas first, then share. It's still good to bounce ideas off of colleagues, as long as it isn't forced.
Don't create an echo chamber in your company. A diverse group of people will come up with a wider variety of creative ideas, whereas like-minded people will, unsurprisingly, all think alike.
Reward innovation by doling out positive feedback for great ideas.
Consider giving out awards for creativity to show that thinking outside of the box is truly valued in your business.
Make time for creativity.
By now, it's no secret that Google has employees spend at least 20% of their time to creative thinking or exploring new side projects. It's certainly worked out well for them: both Gmail and Google Maps came from this initiative. Make it clear to employees that you value their creativity and prove it by giving them time to dream up your next great project.
At Pixel Fish, we embrace creativity in everything we do. So if you're ready to take your website or digital marketing to greater heights, contact us today.