Imagination is more important than knowledge.
— Albert Einstein
The value of creativity has been discussed by many business visionaries. Michael Dell said, “It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path at Dell.” Bill Gates said “I’ve always been an optimist and I suppose that is rooted in my belief that the power of creativity and intelligence can make the world a better place.”
Leaders often place a value on “thinking out of the box.” But if creativity is so important why do large and small companies often leave it to chance?
The development of creativity in your organization should be approached with conscious intent. You need to create an atmosphere that fosters creativity. Many organizations have gray cubicles, bare walls, bland conference rooms, and semi-isolated employees working in small areas covered by creativity-reducing colors, visions and sounds. How can we expect people in this environment to think creatively for our organizations?
So what can companies do to improve this most critical element called creativity? It is amazing how much can be done with a relatively small investment.
- Replace standard corporate posters in conference rooms, hallways and offices with beautiful oil paintings. Hand-painted reproductions of great masters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt.
- Invest in a simple sound system that plays classical music. If this is inappropriate in some work zones, designate break rooms and conference rooms for music. A study by the University of California, Irvine demonstrated that IQ scores rise significantly (although temporarily) when subjects are tested while listening to Mozart.
- Designate a room a company “thinking room.” Place small toys, crayons, markers and paper in the room. Let employees express themselves in this room a few times a day. You can even have a mandatory “10 minutes thinking time.”
The ability to think creatively should not be the sole responsibility of the leader or CEO of the business. This function could be shared by all and by doing so increase the productivity of any company. The three steps listed above are simple to take and require a relatively small investment. It’s vitally important to enjoy this process and let your own creativity dictate the application of these steps.