Modern CMOs face a creativity problem and opportunity. Sixty percent of CEOs consider creativity to be the single most important quality in a leader, yet only 25 percent of workers feel they’re living up to their creative potential. Why is there a gap this large, and what can business leaders do about it? It represents a gap that innovative CMOs can close.
Why? A creative workforce can give a company the edge it needs to stay ahead of the competition. If you want to give your team a creative boost, it’s important to encourage people to pursue the paths that interest them and reward unique solutions to problems.
Changing the very demeanor of your work, however, is always easier said than done. If you’re looking for practical ways to spark creativity in your brand, here are some places to start:
1. Put down the devices
Smartphones and computers may be integral to the way modern business is done, but they can also have serious drawbacks. While I was researching my new book, I discovered the multitasking that technology enables is a massive drain on personal creativity. If you want your workers to get a new perspective on a problem, set aside an hour or two with no devices at all. Forcing people to work solely with what they have at their disposal is bound to inspire novel thinking.
2. Read as a team
Long-form reading does wonders for the creative mind. Reading a book together as a work group can be a great way to get everyone on the same page, and browsing some of the best books on creativity can lead you to some great reads for inspiring creative attitudes within your office.
3. Organize team brainstorming
Even with the interconnectivity of modern offices, workers can feel more isolated than ever. Team brainstorming sessions not only give people the opportunity to share their ideas, but they also allow everyone in your office to get a sense of what their colleagues are thinking about and working on. Cross-pollinating ideas is one of the best ways to get people into a creative mindset.
4. Encourage failure
Nearly everyone wants to be creative, but fear of failure is a constant barrier to creative risk-taking. While no one wants an office filled with constant failure, it’s not impossible to strike a happy balance between company success and personal ingenuity.
5. … but have failure postmortems
As painful as it can sometimes be, the most valuable thing someone can do when he fails is to learn from it. If you encourage an employee to take a risk or develop a project that doesn’t come to fruition, sit down with him afterward. Discuss what went wrong, what he would have done differently, and what he plans on doing the next time around. Failures are only ever truly failures when they don’t inform your next move.
6. Practice office mindfulness
It may sound a bit unusual, but it really does work – practicing meditation, yoga or just moments of general mindfulness as an office goes a long way toward improving employee mindset. Being calm, collected and in touch with your inner self inspires personal innovation and free thinking in a way that just sitting behind a desk for eight hours simply can’t match. Start to learn your true value of time and then make incremental changes towards being better.
7. Go somewhere different
A change in scenery can lead to a change in mindset as well. Working somewhere different – even somewhere simple like a cafe, park, or house – for as little as a day gets different parts of the brain working. New environments inspire new ideas, so encouraging your workers to be a bit more flexible with where they work can lead to big returns on creativity.
If finding a different place to work isn’t practical, change where you work currently. Changing the layout of your office bends your brain in all of the same ways that changing your work environment does. Additionally, a team reorganization of the office is a great way for people to flex their creative muscles practically, finding the arrangement that works best for them.
9. Be active
An active body begets an active mind. Any exercise at all greatly increases brain activity and releases mood-improving endorphins. Simple things like encouraging a 20-minute office walk in the afternoon affords people an opportunity to take a break from work and distractions while giving their creative thinking a boost in the process.
10. Play games
Office games have long been a part of team-building exercises, but their benefits don’t just stop there. Competitive, strategy-focused games encourage thinking outside the box, as well as intellectual collaboration. Getting people to think differently – as well as think together – is critical to inspiring creative thinking that extends beyond the individual.
11. Encourage team crossover
Office silos are one of the biggest enemies to creativity out there. Teams that never engage in meaningful collaboration are wearing blinders, unable to see all of the incredible innovation going on elsewhere in the office. Make your marketers spend some time with your designers or your developers work alongside your salespeople. Seeing the business operate through a different lens is guaranteed to get people thinking about their work in a new way.
For creative CMOs, getting people to think in different ways means thinking about work in different ways. Creativity is an integral part of keeping any business competitive, but it takes work to maximize your workers’ creative potential. And, creativity is a key pillar in innovation. If your workplace needs a creative boost, use these tips to turn your brand into a nexus of exciting, innovative thinking. A creative brand beams. And as the saying goes, happy employees make for happy customers.