When you think of "creativity," what comes to mind?
Do you imagine arts and crafts, like painting and drawing? Perhaps you think that "creative types" are only people like filmmakers, writers and musicians.
What about creativity in business? Nurturing creativity in business doesn't mean that you and your employees need to spend your lunch breaks painting every day (although if that's your jam, go for it!). It’s more about coming up with new ideas and solving problems creatively.
Everyone has the ability to be creative, and harnessing that creativity within your business is key to growth within the business world.
Let's explore a few reasons why creativity is so important and what you can do to help foster creativity within your business.
Why Is Creativity Important in Business?
If you’ve ever been to an art museum or a music concert, you understand the importance of creativity in our daily lives. However, you may be wondering what creativity has to do with business. Let's take a look.
Creativity Is a Central Part of Being Human
“Creativity” is more than just a buzzword. It's a defining part of being a human.
Human creativity started when we first learned how to use sticks and rocks as tools. Now we’ve invented iPhones, computers, smart watches, and other incredible pieces of technology. Humans have always shown creative thinking in solving problems.
When we create something, we are connecting with our humanity.
What does a business exist for? Whether you’re selling cupcakes or IT software, products or services, your business probably serves humans in one capacity or another. By connecting to the "human" side of your business, you're connecting to your potential clients. You'll also build a happier team.
Encouraging creativity in business nourishes an entrepreneurial spirit. A creative company is a thriving company.
Creativity Fuels Technological Innovation
Everyone talks about how quickly technology is evolving in the 21st century. Where do you think this growth is coming from?
As the world becomes more and more driven by technology, creative thinking becomes ever more necessary in today’s societies and economies. We don't want to become slaves to technology — rather, we want to be the driving force behind the technology.
Perhaps your creative company is developing new technologies. Maybe you’re coming up with innovative ways to use the technologies we already have. Whatever the case may be, surviving and thriving in a technological society requires innovation and creativity.
Creativity Is Necessary to Solve Complex Problems
Remember that most business offerings are ultimately about solving someone’s problem.
Here’s the catch, though: if a problem exists, there are usually multiple businesses offering various solutions to the problem. If you want to have the competitive edge on offering the best solutions, your business needs to be able to function creatively.
Take the time to first brainstorm about the “problems” that exist within your client base. Then think about how your business can offer innovative solutions to those problems.
Tips to Foster Creativity Within Your Business
You can see that creative thinking is necessary to give your company a competitive advantage. Wondering what you can do to encourage more creative thinking within your own business? Here are a few tips.
Hire the Right People
Creativity begins with hiring the right team.
This doesn’t mean that everyone you hire is going to be at the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. You probably wouldn’t want that many strong personalities all working within the same company, anyways! However, you should be seeking out people for your team that value innovation and growth.
Look for people with a growth mindset. This means that they believe in the power of hard work to overcome challenges. They understand that by approaching their weaknesses as problems to be solved, they will be able to learn and master any skill that they put their mind to learning.
If you really want to have creative people in your business, you need to have a system to reward that creativity.
Perhaps that means you'll be giving out incentives like a pay bonus or a gift card to team members who can contribute creative ideas to the company. Maybe you reward creativity by raffling off prizes to all who submit innovative suggestions to move the company forward.
Many job environments subtly (or not so subtly!) encourage their employees to stay within a preset mould of productivity and efficiency. By allowing for mistakes and messiness, new ideas can emerge.
Take Some Downtime
To truly foster creative spirit within your business, it’s important to have some downtime.
Most creative thinking happens when the brain is relaxed and at ease. Innovation cannot thrive when employees are worked to the bone.
Downtime looks like giving your employees appropriate holidays and sufficient time off. It also means taking lunch breaks and fostering a culture that encourages an actual break. Don't just keep working through your lunch break!
Allow Flexible Working Hours
This goes right along with the idea of allowing for downtime.
As the world becomes more aware of how people function differently depending on the time of day, it is growing more and more common to allow for flexible working hours in jobs. This doesn’t mean that employees get to work whatever hours they want. It simply means that the company is allowing for a bit more flexibility on which hours their employees are working.
By giving people more autonomy over what time they come to work and what time they leave, you will build a team of people who are functioning during their own peak performance times.
Take Brain Breaks
We started this article by talking about how creativity doesn’t have to always mean painting, drawing, or other so-called artistic activities.
However, artistic activities can be a good way to take a “brain break” and do something that’s outside of your normal realm of expertise. Getting stuck in the hustle and grind of your daily business routine can wear you down and diminish your ability to think creatively.
Doing these activities with coworkers is also a great way to foster a sense of community within the workplace. Visit a local art class or try some scrapbooking. You might be surprised at your own productivity and joy when you return to work after having had a brain break!
The ironic thing about creativity is that no one can give you an exact formula for "how to be creative." However, you can definitely nurture creative thinking within yourself.