Innovation and creativity are essential for survival in today’s rapidly changing world but more often than not, organisational culture is what stops it dead in its tracks.
Companies need a future focus that fosters innovation to ensure long-term growth and success but in order for creativity to thrive, it must be supported by an organisation’s culture.
Organisational culture vs creativity
Described as the personality of an organisation, or ‘the way we do things around here’, organisational culture is what helps shape employee perceptions and behaviour and makes a company what it is.
A healthy, thriving organisational culture enables creativity in the workplace and results in the generation of new ideas, products and processes. The alternate cultural tilt can do exactly the opposite, with people and processes stagnating and becoming outdated and ineffective.
This means managers have to lead by example and consistently show support for, and encourage, creativity in the workplace. So often, leaders feel safer following the status quo because ‘this is how we’ve always done things’. We may be more likely to say no than yes because we may fear uncertainty and perhaps we’re a little afraid of the change that may result.
In comparison, a confident forward-focused leader that creates an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing new ideas without being criticized, will absolutely reap the rewards. Providing support from the top down helps remove creative barriers such as fear, criticism and ridicule around new ideas and innovations, and encourages employees to continually innovate.
Learning from mistakes
One of the main ways to encourage creativity in the workplace is to let people make mistakes without being punished. If a mistake is punished, ignored or covered up, it sends the message that failure isn’t acceptable which creates fear amongst employees and stops them from thinking creatively or suggesting new ideas.
Instead, it’s important for managers to treat failure as an opportunity to learn and grow while supporting employees to take healthy risks and experiment with new ways of doing things. It’s also essential to continually recognise and reward innovation as this motivates employees to be more creative in their ideas and suggestions.
Time to create and innovate
Time is often touted as a barrier for innovation – people are busy; thinking of new ways to do something we already know how to do will rarely be prioritised. Giving people the time to develop their ideas and come up with new ways of doing things provides them with the space to generate creative solutions. In order to enhance innovation and creativity, try to allocate time to explore new ideas, experiment and solve problems within your team’s workday.
Having to face stringent deadlines everyday stifles creativity and means people are less likely to spend time being creative. Innovation activities should be encouraged in the workplace and considered as part of an employee’s day-today activities.
Businesses that commit time, energy and enthusiasm towards innovation will benefit from the coming together of collective knowledge, ideas and experience across all levels of their organisation, resulting in a healthy, thriving innovative workplace for the future.