Creativity, or Innovation, is the key that opens doors, the fuel that drives sales, and the force behind the ideas that change our world. But what is innovation exactly? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, innovation is “the introduction of something new; a new idea, device, or action”. We all recognize creativity when we see it, but is every person sitting at a desk or in a brainstorming session capable of producing groundbreaking ideas?
Experts agree that creativity is important to the workplace. According to Bernie Clark of Majux, “…creativity and innovation are essential for the growth of an organization”. So how does a manager or corporate trainer get the most out of their employees?
Design a space for relaxation.
Obviously you do not want all your employees taking naps in an employee lounge or going home after lunch to “chill”; but acknowledging that people who are stressed or feeling under pressure might simply need a short break from the creation process. Providing a relaxation space can go a long way toward getting the most out of an employee. One only has to look at Google to see how they have built relaxation into the physical workforce through onsite gyms, outdoor lounge space, fully staffed kitchens, and the ability to bring your pets to work.
Know when to end the brainstorming session.
Creativity cannot always be forced or timed. Imagine giving your staff a task to come up with 10 new ideas for products or on increasing product sales, and then allowing them 5 minutes to do it! I would bet that most employees would freeze and be unable to go beyond the first idea that popped into their head. Or on the other end of the spectrum, keeping the brainstorming session running an hour or more past the scheduled meeting time; not willing to let them go until someone comes up with a winning idea. Creativity does not work well with constraints and limitations. The outcome of those meetings would most likely be dull and useless.
Get ideas from more than one “expert”.
The employees in your company are the experts you have on the front-line. If we are talking about retail, they are the ones dealing with the product, supplies, and customers on a daily basis. Gathering information from employees in various areas and expertise within the company will help to pull ideas together for a more comprehensive solution to a problem.
Problem -solving with a purpose.
Many innovative ideas arise due to the need to solve a problem. Making sure your employees are working on relevant problems will help to ensure their ideas are going to be useful and relevant to real-time problems in the corporation. This is where surveys, both employee-based and customer-based will help to refine the topic and result in actionable solutions.
All managers like to know the bottom line, and when it comes to creativity in business here it is-fostering creativity comes from the top-down:
- Management should allow employees the freedom to speak about their needs in the workplace
- Let employees know their ideas are valued and they won’t be judged or belittled if their vision is not immediately apparent
- Encourage informal break-out sessions for problem solving
When management and employees are on the same page in terms of workplace climate and productivity, the result will be innovative ideas, processes, and products that enhance the company’s growth and profitability.