Creativity is the number-one attribute being sort in business today.

It would be fair to say that every business wants the lion share of the market they are in and SMEs, small and large corporate companies need to play on the creativity field if they are to gain the results they want.

Yet finding the time to be creative is a tough ask with the busyness of today’s world…who has the time to take time out these days!

It’s all hustle, hustle, hustle!

Creativity needs space to think and explore but so often the quick fix is sort instead – the quick fix that doesn’t require thinking or the time to explore options and ideas. Instead it provides easy to follow, spoon fed strategies that might, just might give a short term result and before long it is back to the drawing board…oops, apologies…the drawing board doesn’t exist in this thinking because that would require creativity and exploration so it is back to the internet to find the next quick fix.

It’s like the ‘diet’ trap so many fall into where a person needs to lose weight quickly for a holiday or special event so they follow a fast-results ‘diet’ and within a short period of time they have regained the weight and unfortunately for some have put more on. They are in a worse position than when they started.

So what’s the answer to investing in creativity in your business?

Its starts with Culture

To start with, creativity and exploration need to be encouraged throughout the whole of your business and to do that they need to be ingrained in the culture which is led from the top leaders and decision makers.

For the culture of creativity to go viral in your business, as a leader you must actively promote and encourage it and not leave it up to someone else to do it for you. If you leave it up to others, no one really believes you, so therefore, they will not fully trust you, which means your credibility and respect from others is put at risk. The last thing you want is a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality.

So your team must actively promote, encourage the creativity culture WITH you, not for you.

Allow opportunity

Creativity does not happen when we are in our comfort zones, it needs nourishment in the unfamiliar. Spending time away from the familiar such as a few days hiking or camping, exploring, unplugging from mobile phones, social media and the internet – something that is different and unusual from the norm can led to a 50% increase in creativity, according to a study done by University of Utah

This means that time away even if it is to go for a walk in the middle of your day, needs to be scheduled, so your work is still completed. Creativity does not mean neglecting responsibilities. It means the opposite. Be creative in finding ways to balance creativity and the logistics of the must do’s.

Ironically, time seems to be the biggest obstacle, yet for companies where creativity is embedded in the culture time doesn’t seem such a big problem. They make it happen because it is important, so therefore they plan for creativity and are creative in their planning.

Ask lots of questions, be curious

Asking questions on what we are seeing, hearing, experiencing and challenging what is right in front of us is a curiosity that gets lost as we move into adulthood, yet is essential to creativity.

The saying, curiosity killed the cat comes to mind…but creativity gave it nine lives!

So often people who ask questions are labelled as trouble makers or antagonists. Maybe, just maybe they are the ones who would have stopped products from having to be recalled.

Seek out multiple perspectives

When ideas are stuck in a small space with limited perspectives, they don’t get very far if they get traction at all.

Take time to seek other people’s opinions, asking what they see, hear, feel, what is their experience. Seek out people who you know won’t tell you what you want to hear, people from different background or different industries.

An idea in its infancy needs many supports to bring it to maturity so create the creative, nurturing community.

Use your systems to your advantage

At some point creativity, exploration and ideas need to be made real. That means they need to be deliverable and have a return on investment because let’s face it, no one is in business to make a loss and waste resources.

This is where your systems come in, whether they are physical, process, people or thinking driven. Your systems will either support or restrict the creative process.

Where a system is restrictive, then it’s time to be creative in how the system or the idea can be modified to gain the return on investment. Then the decision on feasibility needs to be made.

Recognising and addressing the limitations can be challenging but it is essential. It certainly beats being strangled by the status quo of inertia or ground hog day.

So if you want more creativity for your business, your team and yourself, then take action to make it happen. Commit to changing the ‘way it’s always been done’ and stay thinking differently. Give your brain a rest from the same old, same old. Instead, nurture and fertilise ideas that move you out of your comfort zone.

Diane Gray, Specialist Consultant

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