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22 May 2017

Creating a Culture of Innovation

by Dean Lynn 0

Creativity is core to business success on so many levels, to the point that a creative culture is something worth fighting for. The reasons for fostering creativity in your business and the rewards that follow are varied. It’s no exaggeration to say that driving a creative culture should be one of your central concerns and one you are prepared to implement at any cost.

Drive Innovation and Improvement

If you think about it, in a lot of business contexts the word “creativity” is virtually a synonym for “innovation” – and few would deny that innovation is one of the most powerful resources a business can have. It leads to fresh ideas and inventions, improved processes and effective solutions to problems. What often goes under-appreciated, however, is just how wide-ranging the benefits of creativity can be.

Business leaders come up with new ideas and fresh ways to stand out from the competition, co-workers figure out new and better ways to do their job effectively.

Creativity adds value to your business across the board. By fostering a creative business culture that encourages and even rewards fresh and original ideas, you are maximising that value.

A Better Environment for Employees

From an employee viewpoint, there is nothing worse than a company without soul – a company where everything is sterile, functional, and business-like at all times, and where the ordinary employee does not feel valued or acknowledged. A business which fosters and invests in a creative culture is pretty much the polar opposite of that. It’s a dynamic business with personality, where new ideas are bred and where innovation on the part of employees is encouraged, recognised, and rewarded.

A creative culture leads to happier, more satisfied, and more productive employees who feel a genuine drive to come up with new ideas to improve the way your business does things. This is true for all kinds of employees, and for professional creatives, it is doubly if not triply true.

Creativity is Success

In many ways, creativity is directly linked with success. Creativity is entirely central to marketing, designers, copywriters, and people who are just downright good with ideas are the creative people who drive innovative, powerful marketing campaigns that get results and get their messages heard above the general hubbub of the content world we live in. And when you probably have several competitors doing what you do, it is the business that has the creative resources to come up with new and better ways to do things that stands out and carves itself the biggest and most stable share of the custom available.

 

Therefore, breeding creativity is not just a good idea, but something worth fighting for like your business depends on it. Because when you lack that vital creative spark to rise above the competition and to get your message heard, it might just be that your business really does depend on it!

If you’re unsure about where to start when you’ve been following the rules, here’s my action points on building a creative culture;

 

Create Opportunities

You can complain that there is no time in the day for creativity, but there is. Be rigorous with your approach and set a time in the diary to have weekly or monthly discussions. This ensures that each team member can show-up and be part of the discussion, no matter their position.

 

Bring Everyone Together

When deciding on a new business strategy, everyone should be included. From board level to intern, because each member of the team has a different way of thinking that can help to build a strong strategy that relates to your customers. After all, it’s usually the case that the junior members are the one’s putting this strategy into action, so if they’re not on-board and understand the value, it’s never going to be a success.

Bring everyone together in group brainstorms, but keep it structured, so it doesn’t veer off course.

 

“You were born an original. Don’t be a copy” – Unknown

 

Reward Employees

Incentivise your team for brining ideas to the table that make a difference to the business.

We all have ideas, but coming up with something that is actionable, and meets the goals of the business can transform processes, improve sales and see the company innovate in an instant.

For example, if an individual’s idea saves the company £X a month, give a percentage of that to the individual.

 

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” – Milton Berle

 

Keep Learning

Knowledge is the foundation of creativity, and only with a team that feels confident and knowledgeable will you arrive at the most productive ideas.

Encourage team members development and offer in-house and out of house training regarding your industry, so that they are aware of the trends and issues arising.

Regular knowledge sharing meetings should be kept up, so that all team members can share updates and issues proactively, rather than reactively. There’s nothing worse than missing the boat on a problem that your company can solve.

 

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

 

Join Departments

We see it time and time again when company departments are completely disjointed in every sense of the word. Unsure of what each department does, how they operate and worse of all, even who they are as a person. How these businesses can function, I will never know, but this highlights an opportunity for you to break the boundaries. Because innovation comes with breaking the rules, not creating them.

Help departments understand what people do by exchanging roles for a day, and then get them to review the process and suggest how things can be improved.

This not only brings together a team that were thinking separately rather than collectively, and can go a long way in improving the function of the business.

 

  “I think 100 percent of innovation is driven by your ability to fail quickly and your ability to learn from it and evolve” – JJ Aguhob

 

Move Fast

When an incredible idea surfaces act fast and implement. As I said previously, there’s nothing worse than missing the boat. So, once idea has come about that everyone is on-board with, get going with it. Don’t shelve it and wait until next month, because you might just find the idea becomes irrelevant and obsolete by the time next month comes around.

 

“Move fast and break things” – Aaron Levie

 

I hope those ideas will encourage you to build your own creative culture, and pursue new ideas. I’ve conducted a number of creative talks recently where many businesses are stuck in outdated ways that are quite literally stifling success, and it shows.

Embrace the new way of doing business, before you become a page in the history books.

Dean Lynn

Associate Director at Datify