Sunday, February 05, 2006

Business Creativity ( why you need it and how to buy it) Part 3

Yet more reasons why creativity can be useful for your business.

Changing attitude to risk

At first this seems a little odd. The purpose is not to try to make organisations as a whole take on greater risk, however individuals will need to be less risk averse. In a creative culture, individuals will need to stretch themselves and occasionally move out of their own comfort zone thus increasing their own personal risk. However, an increased emphasis on exploration and assessing opportunities means that activities can be undertaken with less risk (as increased knowledge equals less risk) and projects previously considered risky might become possible. A culture shift that encourages collaboration also decreases organisational risk due to the sharing of knowledge and ideas. It is not unknown for employees unwilling to share their knowledge to watch colleagues (and their employer) struggle. Measures to address this usually require changes to company remuneration and rewards schemes.

Improved learning and knowledge transfer

The culture and activities that surround creativity naturally support this as interaction is actively encouraged. This does not mean a noisy workplace with large groups huddled around the coffee machine but interaction should be encouraged and face to face dialogue should replace email. An often quoted statistic is that 80% of the world’s email travel less than 50 feet. One well known company realised that the tea ladies were the only people who regularly talked to all employees and made use of them as an unofficial company grapevine.

Communications of objectives

This is one of the things that most top management say that they do but one that the workforce will have an opposing view about. Employees do not doubt that there are objectives set but they just do not know what they are. Most MDs and CEOs will make a fair attempt at speaking to the workforce or delegating this to other managers but how do employees know what is expected of them, and more to the point, how their own contribution aids the success of the business.

The answer is ‘stories’, not the childhood stories that we all know, although the concepts are the same. A well crafted story often tells of a journey and consists of both explicit and implicit components. The former usually come from senior management together with an invitation to take part. Employees will embellish the story according to their own values and beliefs. Thus you have achieved one of the holy grails of HR, how to communicate strategy, gain the buy in of employees and ensure that the values of the employees and the company overlap. What’s more, the ‘story’ can be told verbally (say at a company meeting), visually (through a storyboard, video or poster) and easily translated for use in international companies.

In my next article I shall look at Managing Creativity and also the mian uses to which creativity can be put. I will then explore how a business should go about engaging the services of consultants, facilitators and trainers.

You can read the full text of Creativity as a Business Tool from the web by clicking on the link.

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