Creativity, catalyst for future work!

Zhengwen QI and Inès Kontusz Leroy

What is creativity?

Creativity is the ability to create, which refers to finding a new way to perceive this world and translate it into practice. Thinking about a new idea but not making it concrete is being imaginative rather than creative.

Why creativity is important for future work?

The boost of creativity benefits not only the companies but also their employees.

Increased profitability:

According to he Boston Consulting Group’s report Innovation 2010, creativity and innovation are the top ranked strategic imperative, because they can enable new ways of working which ensure profitability. The report Ernst & Young 2010 Connecting Innovation to Profit furthers this idea. It advocates that “creative management techniques” can help organize talents in an appropriate way, cultivate and nurture creative thinking, and thus bring achievement and growth (not to mention more recruitment and investment!).

Higher efficiency:

Employees who consider their task creative and challenging are more motivated and focused at work. The more creative the team is, the more efficient it will be. By comparison to non-creative teams, creative teams score higher on objective measures of performance and work better within a given budget.

Better organization:

Creative leaders are good models for their employees. They can not only stimulate their employees’ creativity through briefings, but also foster a creative corporate culture for their employees to follow. Individuals’ brainpower and their creative thinking ability will be identified, which contributes widely to the organization’s growth and competitiveness.

How to improve creativity at work?

Many companies nowadays make great efforts to stimulate their employees’ creativity and encourage innovative ideas. Here are some methods commonly used for that purpose:

— Some companies now emphasize on developing “creative teams” which are composed of talents from different domains, such as poets, physicists, musicians and psychologists. By working with people from different backgrounds, new mental connections will be created, ultimately resulting in better design inventions. For instance, the design-consulting firm IDEO deploys this strategy.

Training events are now often organized, which consist of sessions with various topics, such as photo editing, options trading, They can enhance corporate culture and make it easier for team members to conceptualize ideas, either as an individual or as a team. The website Eventbrite’s “Brite camps” training sessions are good examples for this.

— Studies have shown that some working environment such as dim lighting, reduced clutter or rooms with high ceilings can help boost creativity. However, environments affect people in different ways. So companies can leave their employees try different working environments in search of their inspiration. The more inspired people feel, the more creative they will be.

— Paying attention to creative ideas and recognising them publicly. Recognizing great ideas will set a good example for others, and make it clear that the company places a high value on innovation. Special attention should also be drawn to the company’s communication structure, as Ed Catmull noted in his book Creativity, Inc. : “Everybody should be able to talk to anybody”. Human interactions are the most natural resources for creative ideas.

— Clay Christensen once mentions a cognitive skill “associational thinking” in his book the Innovator’s Dilemma. The main point consists in linking unrelated ideas and concepts in a new way. An example is the use of Legos in Google and the NASA. Legos can help make ideas more concrete and develop a special language between the employees. Meanwhile, it can also put managers and employees at the same level in discussions.

Conclusion

Creativity is a new challenge of companies in the 21th century. In a world of competition and need for productivity, stimulating the labour side to produce original and mind-blowing ideas is inevitable to achieve companies’ expected outcomes. Creativity, according to the 2010 Winning Ingredients report from Standard Chartered, is the key ingredient to improve innovation and companies’ benefits. Meanwhile, employees’ personal fulfilment can also be satisfied. In sum, the future of the world will be more colorful with the decoration of creativity!