How creativity and problem solving can help your company get ahead of the curve
For many businesses, there often comes a point when growth starts to plateau. Staff may be working effectively and diligently, and there may be good harmony within the employee group, but results simply do not seem to improve. Short-term boosts in growth are possible through investment, but they rarely sustain over time.
One way to boost a company’s performance on a long-term basis is to focus on creativity. Creative and innovative thinking among staff is a priceless commodity and ensures that new ideas continually flow from within a company. All businesses can benefit from a culture of innovation, not just the creative industries. Creativity helps staff members to feel motivated and energised, especially when their ideas are acted upon and implemented.
One problem that stands in the way of creativity is the notion that some people ‘have it’ and others do not. While some individuals are naturally predisposed towards creative thought, it is reductive to label some people as creative and others as uncreative. Training can help anyone to learn to approach problems and solutions with a more open mind than they ordinarily would.
The environment in which people work also has an influence on the innovation they are likely to display. If there are very strict structures in place, staff members will limit the creativity and free-reign they apply when completing tasks. If they understand that there is room to manoeuvre, and that different approaches and perspectives are welcomed, they will be far more likely to show their innovative qualities.
Businesses that invest in innovation training for staff members are giving themselves a crucial edge over competitors; however, it is important not to negate these positive effects by subtly discouraging creativity. A 2010 study by Mueller, Goncalo and Kamdar titled ‘Recognizing Creative Leadership: Can Creative Idea Expression Negatively Relate to Perceptions of Leadership Potential?‘ revealed that there is a tendency for managers to view employees who show greater levels of creativity as less suitable for leadership roles. While there is undoubtedly some element of risk in giving employees more room to think laterally, company owners need to be sure that they do not punish those who do.
The risk element is likened to an investment in the stock market by Sternberg, O’Hara and Lubart. They say the business truism ‘buy low, sell high’ can also be applied to ideas. Creative people often invest in seemingly low-value ideas that other people pass over. They then often use them effectively to generate high returns; however, there is always a risk that the investments will not come good. Acting with restraint on these occasions is vital to ensure that future creativity is not discouraged.