What Can Your Organization Do?

Creating a culture where creativity and innovation are more than just words

Everybody is creative

Companies expect employees to be creative and innovative. After all, that’s why they were hired in the first place. But that’s also why organizations have so much difficulty implementing training programs for innovation and creativity. Since everybody is creative, how does that get put into an organizational development strategy? Training simply will not make a worker creative or innovative. To get creativity and innovation flowing, the onus is on employers to create a work environment that encourages this behaviour.

Creativity can’t be confined to a room

If workers are told their ideas “annoy a lot of people,” they may not want to share them, even if it means helping the organization avoid a costly mistake. Likewise, in a fun environment where people freely share ideas, one idea bounces off another and creates a lot of options.

Creativity can’t be confined to one room. The culture has to be created where ideas flow as events happen in real time. It’s unrealistic to put somebody in a room who is being told daily to simply follow procedures and not to think and then say “Voila. Be creative now.”

So how can an organization implement a creativity and innovation program? There are a number of steps they can take.

Don’t shoot down ideas
This is moving from the “yeah but” to the “yes and” culture. If ideas are continually shot down with, “Yes, but here is why it won’t work,” people will stop sharing them.

Understand the “box”
Employees have to understand the box in order to go outside of it. The more they understand why things are done the way they are, the more innovative they can be. Knowledge transfer and sharing are big topics for organizations as the workplace ages. By creating an environment of innovation, people are encouraged to share because they understand that, instead of it being a threat to their position, it actually makes their position stronger because they also receive ideas and information they can use.

Help people to understand the time and place for innovation
What scares many organizations is that the constant flow of ideas means nothing ever gets done. Comments like, “We don’t believe in creativity for creativity’s sake,” and, “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” have merit. Like all competencies, there is a time and a place for it. Not many passengers want airline pilots to be creative and innovative on take off and landing. But if the steward sees something wrong, they want her to share what is happening with the pilot and help create a solution so the plane can land safely.