Creativity drives growth – there’s no doubt about this. McKinsey reports that creative leaders outperform their peers on all financial metrics. An astounding 67 percent of creative leaders achieve above-average revenue growth. But we’re all so stretched for time, and creativity seems to keep getting pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists. Finding time for creativity to develop new ideas can be difficult, but here are some ideas that can help you start being more creative straight away.
Avoid processes, procedures and systems stifling creativity
Rebecca, Shambourgh, a fellow leadership coach based in the US, told Harvard Business Review that the biggest thing blocking creativity is processes and systems. If your teams are bound by spreadsheets, tools and software programmes, these could be blocking their confidence and stalling creativity. Teams who are encouraged to try new ways of working will take businesses to new levels, finding ways to boost productivity and profits.
If you feel like you teams are creatively blocked, look at your processes and consider to what extent you ask team members to follow rules without flexibility. If your business does things because they’ve always been done that way, it could be time to unpack your processes and procedures to make sure they’re not stifling creativity.
Encourage space and time for employee creativity
An Adobe study on creativity found that 75% of employees felt under growing pressure to be productive instead of creative. This is really worrying, but it reflects what we say every day in most workplaces. The study also revealed that 40% of workers feel they don’t have the tools to be creative. The irony of this is that allowing space and time for creativity leads to higher long-term productivity, and with today’s technology, we have unlimited access to tools that can encourage rather than limit our creativity.
Sharing some useful tools to help team creativity can help, as well as allocating set creative time. Some companies that are renowned for their creative approach, such as Google, Innocent and Exposure Ninja, encourage employees to spend 20 per cent of time on creative development. This can be individually on a weekly self-directed basis, as well as implementing regular sessions with an independent team coach or group facilitator to unlock different ways of thinking.
Online tools to help creativity
Mindtools is an excellent source of online creativity tools. It will guide you and your teams through the Charette Procedure, allowing you to brainstorm ideas with multiple stakeholders in a manageable and effective way. It will show you group ideas generations methods such as Crawford’s slip writing technique to generate ideas from the quietest of team members.
Understanding your customer’s journey and developing personas to define your ideal potential customers can be a great exercise to help all your teams to see your business from the perspective of your customer. Hubspot has an easy to use, fun persona generation tool. It’s interesting to let groups or individuals create their own then match them up and see if everyone’s are similar or if there are huge differences in perceived personas. This can help you to build a true picture from many perspectives.
Canvaniser is a great tool for mapping the customer journey and linking your ideas in line with several key business areas. It’s based on Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas.
Use coaching to be more creative and drive growth
Elham Hennessey, writing for Muscat Daily News, identifies that coaching is an ideal strategy to unlock creativity and drive growth. She rightly highlights that a coach can help employees to think in new ways and visualize new potential opportunities.
A coach can help you to understand elements of your own or team behaviour that could be stalling growth. A coach can also help you to find clarity regarding business goals and make sure that the work you’re doing is aligned with these goals.
Coaches use a range of tools and methods to bring out feelings, beliefs, values and ideas from individuals and teams and help turn these into a roadmap showing what needs to be done to achieve the kind of growth you need to see.