Making creativity part of company culture

William Bernbach, one of the three founders of the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), once said: “It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors.”

During the 20 years that I have taught creative thinking, there have been fundamental shifts within our civilisation. For example, the rise of low cost distributed computing is perhaps best epitomised by the launch in 2007, by Apple Inc of the iPhone, one of the first smartphones to include a multi-touch interface. Apple is a hot bed of creative thinking and in May 2017 became the first US company to hit US$800 billion in value.

Globalisation, intense competition and the disruption of entire industries are now part of daily life. Underneath these dramatic changes, human beings are the same. The desire to be creative resides in all of us.

Creativity in its many forms outside of the work place is a good thing. Whether it belongs in the office environment is another question entirely. Some would say that creativity in business is OK for computer game producers, architects, advertising agencies and the like. I believe that it gives every organisation, regardless of size the edge within a fast changing environment. Making creativity a part of company culture will give you a competitive advantage, motivate staff and help to increase turnover and profitability.

A client asked me recently: “How can we make creativity part of everyday office life?”

Here is my response:

* Nominate a company (0r department) Creative Thinker each month.

* Buy some creative thinking books and leave them lying around the office.

* Use a creative thinking technique, such as Mind Mapping, the next time you encounter a problem.

* Take a walk with the people who are tackling the problem and discuss it as you move.

* Share creative thinking stories with each other.

* Talk about creative thinking during business meetings.

* Put up some creative thinking posters in the office.

* Mention creative thinking within internal newsletters.

* Blog about creative thinking.

* Let your customers know that you enjoy using creative thinking techniques.

* Share interesting creative thinking articles, stories, cuttings and books with your colleagues.

* Count the number of new ideas that your company / department generates each month and display the number where everyone can see it.

* Get senior management involved.

* Share creative thinking quotes around the office.

* Once a year, have a creative thinking away day.

* Ask non competitors to share their approach to creativity with you (and return the favour).

* Try using creativity software.

* Use creativity ice breakers to get meetings started.

* Invite artists, engineers, architects, authors and professors to talk about creativity.

* Announce an annual award for the best creative thinker within your organisation.

* Tell the media what you are doing.

* Never stop experimenting and learning.

What other ideas could you add to this list?

Nigel Temple is a creativity speaker and trainer. He delivers engaging creativity talks and creative thinking workshops for audiences of all sizes, anywhere in the world.

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