It cannot be denied that creativity is at the core of invention and innovation. Imagine the world without the wheel, electricity, or even (heaven forbid) smart phones. Believe it or not, there was a time when man existed without all of these things, until someone creative came along and wondered “what if…”.
Knowing this, business owners and managers should learn to let loose their creative talented employees to see what they may come up with. Companies have a tendency to shut down creative thinking, preferring to stick to the same old, same old that they are used to, rather than opening up to the possibility of new innovations. This can put a business into a big rut, while their more creative competitors surge and grow.
What is Creative Thinking?
The most primitive way to describe a creative thinker would be to liken them to an artist, poet or musician. Creative is the word given to describe the neighbor who turned that old rowboat into a flowerbed. Creative thinking is not a process. It is like a colored bulb that flicks on in a black and white world, allowing something common to be seen in a whole new light. Artists of all types are creative of course, but so was the caveman that looked at a rock and saw a wheel.
From a business sense, creative thinking would be the ability to look at a situation, problem or need from a fresh perspective and come up with a unique or even unorthodox solution. Stale business owners and managers may find these new ideas to be unsettling, but they are the gas that can ignite something exciting and profitable. And not only with new products or even services. Creative thinkers have also been known to drive sales with compelling advertising and use of media resources.
Part of the conundrum with creativity in the work place is that it is not manageable. Creativity does not thrive under the scrutiny of “big brother.” A creative mind can’t be tethered. Creative thinkers flourish in environments that allow for gazing out windows, communicating freely and sharing wild thoughts without fear of ridicule. A great manager of a creative work place first must be willing to loosen the management reins and untether those minds.
Creative thinking cannot be managed, it can only be encouraged. Major companies like Google encourage creativity for their employees all of the time, by giving them time in the workday to work on what they want. Letting workers loose for one day a week has been a profitable creative approach for Google, who credits this free time as the birthplace of Google Maps and Gmail.
Creative thinking is a lot like that pot of water on the stove. Watch it too closely and nothing will happen, but the second the eyes are diverted somewhere else, here come the bubbles. Business owners and managers who encourage free thought and time in the workplace are going to find that same result. Once they learn to trust in the freedom that fosters a creative work environment, creative ideas will start bubbling over.
How to Foster Creative Ideas
With that perfect creative environment built, managers should start to prepare to field those unique ideas tossed their way. Creative talent will flourish when it is not being dismissed as being crazy or unattainable. All new ideas should be heard with an open mind, and encouraged when they have merit. No matter how far out the box an idea may seem, so long as the creative mind can reason it, there is no good reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to run with it. If for nothing more than to see how high the concept can fly. Managers can always ground a creative project if it starts to be counter-productive to the company’s mission and goals. They can also take part of the credit if the employee’s creative thought turns out to be profitable for the business.
Allowing employees to contribute creativity to a company fosters growth, sales and inevitably – profitability. Business owners who can recognize the potential in a creative work place will be able to reap those benefits for decades.