Harnessing Creativity in the Workplace

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    April 13, 2015

Harnessing Creativity in the Workplace


Every day, I have the daunting task and exhilarating privilege of leading 70 incredibly creative thinkers and doers – from designers and developers to project managers.

Now, some may equate my job to herding cats, but the creatives I know and get to work with are incredibly focused, dedicated and, in their own way, very disciplined. They were born to build brands and tell stories through 30-second spots and editorial pitches and photography. The trick is to harness their energy and brilliance without putting on shackles that could keep their creativity from flowing.

Frankly, I think that’s the task all business leaders face no matter who it is we’re leading: How do you encourage and harness people’s creativity, regardless of the form and whether it’s suited up or wearing jeans? How can you channel their incredible creativity and talent in a meaningful, purposeful way?

Since Wray Ward is devoted to producing creative marketing communications, we’ve given a lot of thought to maximizing creativity and fostering a culture and environment where it can truly flourish.

Once upon a time, I bet the farm on turning a dumpy, low-slung, 1960s building where people used to go for traffic school into an inspiring environment designed to stimulate creativity and attract top talent and customers.

Today our creative thinkers and doers work in an open, bright, cool, colorful space punctuated with the latest technology, original art, glass walls, a garage door and plenty of natural light.

In the meantime, I know it’s critical to make sure our folks can take a break and have fun in the midst of everything. Because sometimes, camaraderie and culture can be the best creative outlets of all. So you might find us firing up the grill or rolling the beer wagon down the hall on a random afternoon.

We have seasonal parties, and our quarterly staff meetings are a blend of serious business and serious fun. We also have a tradition of ringing the bell to share big news and recognize accomplishments.

All of these things are extremely important in keeping our people fresh and energized and inspired so we can fulfill our mission of creating breakthrough, innovative work that gets attention, engages audiences and gets results.

Of course, creativity is essential to a creative marketing communications agency.

But by every measure and estimate, creativity and innovation are essential to developing a competitive advantage and driving economic growth and expansion for all businesses, including both start-ups and established enterprises.

It’s no wonder that creative thinking is now considered to be the world’s most valued commodity. Just consider this: According to an IBM survey of 1,500 chief executives, 'creativity' has been identified as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future. That's creativity – not operational effectiveness, influence, or even dedication.

In a GE-sponsored study of 1,000 executives in 12 countries, 95 percent said innovation is the main lever for a more competitive national economy, and 88 percent agreed that innovation is the best way to create jobs in their country.

And as a report from the Harvard Business School put it: “The ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions also demands high levels of creativity.”

Companies today need to be infused with creative thinking and an innovative mentality, and that has to begin with leadership. This is not about some artsy, idealistic vision of the future; it’s about dollars and cents and being competitive on the national and international stage.

It’s about companies being as smart and profitable as possible, providing the highest-caliber, in-demand jobs and recruiting and retaining the best talent. It’s about the reality that we must always keep transforming how we conduct business and conceive of innovative new products and services.

How do you fuel creative innovation in the workplace? Tell us or show us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram by using the hashtag #HowWeInnovate. What inspires your team? We want to know.

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