How to Bring Creativity to Every Aspect of Your Business

Keith Krach
December 2, 2016

Several years ago, IBM conducted one-on-one interviews with more than 1,500 international businessmen and women in leadership positions across 33 industries. During the course of this study, interviewees were questioned about their management practices and which qualities they considered to be the most important for leaders in the modern business market.

An overwhelming 60 percent of those surveyed revealed that creativity took the top spot, followed by integrity and global thinking. This cultural attitude toward creativity may seem surprising to professionals who operate more traditionally, seeing leadership as an organized responsibility where tight control and predictability are highly valued. However, the importance of creativity has risen dramatically over the last two decades thanks to exponential rates of technological development, creating a need for a higher degree of adaptability in the face of innovation.

As a business leader, you have the ability to instill creativity into every aspect of operations from the top down. Listed below is an outline for bringing creativity to every aspect of your business for growth and success in the digital age.

Creativity in leadership

Bringing creativity to your business begins with putting into place leaders who exhibit qualities that inspire creativity all the way down the business hierarchy. The power behind creativity in leadership ultimately rests in a leader’s ability to manage employees in a way that allows for the optimal production of creative work.

The leaders who are best able to motivate their creative workers are those who embrace change, move quickly in the direction of progress, support talented employees through their successes and their failures, and trust their employees enough to grant them the freedom to use their creative abilities. Creative leadership encourages innovation by providing employees with an atmosphere where imaginative solutions and outside-the-box strategies can be openly discussed rather than shunned, and rewards healthy risk-taking during the process.

Creativity in staff members

Fostering creativity in your business operations is a job that has to be done from the inside out, and it begins with having the right people on board. To find creative employees, look for “idea” people—workers who can conceptualize the larger picture being presented to them, and then run forward with it, supplementing concepts with ideas of their own. Consider approaching the hiring process from a different angle, looking for traditionally valuable assets like communication and problem-solving abilities alongside less conventional ones like passion and an unconventional professional background.

Existing employees who were not originally hired for a creative role can also be trained to approach their work in more innovative ways, a practice that can be useful when applied to even the most structured aspects of business operations. To accomplish this, leaders should focus on giving plenty of feedback, trying to pair employees with tasks that they feel impassioned by, and developing exercises for workers that strengthen their creative thinking abilities.

Creativity in meetings

In American business culture, many workers associate meetings with boredom, frustration, and reduced productivity. However, applying creativity to meetings may help to make them more enjoyable and more productive for your team.

To bring creativity into the conference room, start by clearly establishing the objective that you aim to accomplish by the end of the session. It is the leader’s role to guide the ebb and flow of ideas exchanged within the meeting toward the goal, asking the right questions and allowing brainstorming to develop organically. For leaders who want to see creativity flourish within these discussions, it’s important to recognize the value of keeping away from too many rules. Encourage employees to move around while thinking or to take breaks, like going outside for a 15-minute walk. This simple change in perspective can be the precise catalyst needed to inspire an employee’s next great idea.

Overall, leaders must approach meetings with humor and encourage their teams to speak up with ideas of any kind, and employees should not be chided for eccentric suggestions.

Creativity in your workspace

Studies have investigated the effects of color, noise level, and office layout on factors like productivity and creativity in the workplace. However, talented teams run by committed leaders can be productive and make good ideas happen anywhere. Though the flexible office plan has grown in popularity in America over the last decade or so, experts still debate the efficacy of an open office policy. As a result, new designs for hybrid layouts arise frequently.

Ultimately, the best environment that you can create for your employees is an intangible one. Leaders who make sure that the workplace is an environment where employees have the freedom and tools they need to innovate and feel as though their managers support their mistakes as well as their successes will find themselves at the helm of an effective, modern business.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.