Creative Techniques: 3 Reasons Why Your Workplace Needs Active Creativity


Creativity is an overused buzz word in today’s business environment. Alongside innovation, it stands as one of those terms muttered by Board members and CEOs who subsequently do zip, zilch, zero to support it.

 

 

There are however, a number of solid reasons why creativity must be promoted in the workplace. So the next time you hear any senior staff mutterings, use these three points to push lip service into action.

1. Creativity helps anticipate both problems and trends before they occur. Creativity is all about absorbing information and exploring how it affects things. From that exploration, ideas emerge. Promoting an environment where staff are encouraged to explore their industry, their individual roles, the broader company etc means you have a workforce geared to uncovering issues that might affect the bottom line, positively or negatively.

2. Creativity helps build a strong culture, a strong culture leads to cross pollination of ideas, and the right ideas lead to better business results. In the stone age, hunter/gatherers worked about 15 to 20 hours a week. The rest of the time was spent on leisure. This led to an explosion of artistic expression, and the development of highly evolved cultures. Today, we spend 50+ hours a week at work. If we assign part of that time to creative projects (as does Google), staff feel that the company is supporting their personal growth. We are more likely to see staff interacting with each other as they pursue different ideas, and a stronger company culture can be nurtured. The better the culture, the better the cross pollination etc.

3. It’s fun. Like it or not Mr. Bottomline, we live our lives to enjoy them. There are a myriad of studies on happy workplaces, and being able to pursue creative ideas in the workplace without fear of reprimand or ridicule is fun. It allows us to relax, it prevents resentment and it helps build a happy, productive workspace.

Creative Techniques: What is The Focus Fail?

Thanks to Lifehack

Innovation and creativity are two of the biggest business buzz words of today. Companies are paying enormous amounts of lip service to becoming more innovative, and many are actually putting processes into place to move them selves beyond mere rhetoric.

Sadly, too few will succeed.

In my mind, innovation is a by-product of creativity. The primary product of creativity is awareness. Creativity opens our eyes to possibilities, and innovation is born out of that new awareness.

From a corporate perspective though, innovation is perceived as being the core product of creativity. Companies form creative teams with very strict guidelines and goals aimed purely at specific innovations. “We need to become more innovative with our distribution methods. Create a process to improve distribution costs by 10% and reduce delays by 8%”.

While I am a firm believer in having well defined goals, the problem comes when the innovation team becomes too focused on the end result, the innovation.

That’s the Focus Fail. The board, the CEO, the manager or team leader push the creative team to think purely around the problem. They consume swathes of of information about distribution channels, brainstorm relentlessly around tweaks and improvements and eventually design a a new system that achieves their goals. All good. The board smiles, the manager collects a bonus and the world turns.

The problem is, by focusing purely on the problem, the ‘innovation’ is often just a cost cutting or minor procedural tweak, rather than a true leap.

Creative teams need the freedom to lose focus. They need to be able to keep the end goal wedged in the back corner of their brains while they explore and absorb different snippets of information. Externally, the company may see inefficiency, or even laziness. But if they’ve hired or engaged the right people, they should trust that they’ll get the right result. A great result rather than a stopgap.

One of the biggest blockers of creativity is success, and that’s why the Focus Fail is so dangerous. It makes your team look efficient, it provides a measurable result, and it creates ‘innovation’ that management can easily understand.

If your company truly wants to embrace innovation, then embrace creativity first. Set up an open brief Skunk Works program. Like Google, give your teams time to play. Put a process in place that will build true innovation, rather than a makeover masquerading as a masterpiece.

 

Creative Techniques: Tips To Create A Creative Environment

So what constitutes the right environment in which to be creative?

Google is famous for the effort it puts into developing environments conducive for creativity. Unfortunately, last time I checked my bank balance, I was a little short of the moolah needed for my own personal Googleplex.

So how can we mere mortals optimise our environments for creativity?

1. Set boundaries and define your areas. If you have an office, a studio, a cubicle, ensure that you and your associates know that it’s an area in which you need to work. Don’t be afraid to close the door or put up a big F#*! Off sign.

2. Tool up. Make sure you have what you need to work. Creative types have a tendency to lose focus, and it’s amazing how much time you can waste looking for that felt tip that’s apparently vital to your creativity. Don’t give yourself the excuse. Have paper, pens, whiteboards, clay, lenses, whatever you need on hand so you can focus on your work.

3. Look to be comfortable. Discomfort can be disconcerting. The mind works well in fuzzy mode, and a comfortable environment can help you relax, which can help you think.

4. Use multiple environments. Stimulus is important, and an unchanging environment can actually stifle creativity. Get out and work in different areas when you feel yourself drying up, or you need a break from your routine. I do most of my best work outside the office. One trick I find extremely successful is to turn off the car radio. Wherever I drive, I only ever have the radio on traveling in one direction. One the way there, or the way back. Never both. It forces me to think.

Everyone has different demands of their environments, but most of us have the ability to at least make minor modifications to improve your creativity. You don’t need your own GooglePlex, although wouldn’t it be nice?

Let It Snow: Merry Christmas From Google

Another fun Easter egg (or should that be Christmas egg?) from Google.

Type let it snow in the Google home page (I’m using Firefox & Opera. Will also work on Chrome, but not sure about IE) and snowflakes start falling down the screen. Eventually you’ll fog right up, but of course, Google has thought to add a ‘defrost’ button. Very cool.

Great Marketing? Or total fail? QR Code that can be seen from space

A new initiative called Blue Marble can place QR codes on rooftops in a plan to impact users of Google Earth.

Created by management consulting company Phillips & Company, Blue Marble will allow Google Earth users to access mobile content by scanning the codes placed on rooftops of the participating companies. the cost is reasonable ($8500 + $200 ongoing support fee), but the question I have to ask is, will anyone care?

 

 

The marketing/advertising world abounds with ideas designed to place messages in odd places. Every space is now advertising space. Personally, it makes me laugh, particularly when the messages don’t utilise the space with any cleverness or creativity. So will the world be fascinated by the opportunity to click a QR link? I doubt it. However, as a PR excercise, it might gain some traction.

The other question is, why hasn’t Google simply created some sort of mechanism for Google Maps which allows click throughs directly from Google Maps itself? Oh that’s right. They have.