“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso.
I love that quote from Picasso, largely because it’s true.
When I watch my kids play (when not on the iPads!) it’s incredible what they get up to - a beach scene created in a plastic box, random Lego vehicles and dangerous looking tree swings, among many other things.
There’s an innate creativity there that they want to start using as soon as they can (ie when they're old enough not to choke on Lego or cover furniture in glue!)
They aren’t limited by what’s ‘possible’ or ‘acceptable’ or, indeed, by others perceptions or opinions. They just do what whatever they want to - because that’s what kids do.
Sadly, as we grow up and go to work, we do start to 'care' and our creativity is stifled as a result.
So why bother trying to rekindle it?
Steve Jobs on 'crazy'
I think Steve Jobs captured it really well in his famous ‘Think Different’ ad in the mid-90s (in which Picasso actually features as one of Jobs' 'crazy ones').
In closing Jobs says:
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”
Bringing creativity to work
There’s a very fine line between crazy and creative but perhaps we need a bit of craziness in organisations to nurture creativity?
Now there’s a line that would scare most CEOs witless!
When you think about what makes organisations successful today it can often be brought back to engaged and proud staff serving engaged and proud customers - thank you Mr Branson!
But these days companies have to create that in an environment of fast-moving change, at lower cost and with a workforce of five different generations, each of which has different wants and needs.
But one thing is constant - the ability of your people to see things you don’t, to foresee problems you won’t, to come up with solutions you can’t.
Letting your staff loose to explore new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things can have a positive effect on both them and your customers.
How do you promote creativity?
There are some straightforward things you cna do to try and drive a culture of creativity in your business:
1. Enshrine it in your values
Your values provide staff with direction on how you’ll achieve your vision. Including a ‘creativity’ value shows that you are open to doing things a little differently.
2. THEN lead from the top
Simply saying you value creativity isn’t enough. Today there still tends to be a lot of ‘follow my leader’ so seeing your boss doing something is likely to spur a team on to do the same.
3. Provide a platform for creativity
Bring your creative value to life by introducing initiatives that let your people exercise it. For example, why not run a hack-a-thon. It doesn’t have to be about tech - it’s about people getting together to explore ideas and come up with a solution to a problem. Or give people the day off and let them form teams to identify and solve issues in your department or company. When they present their ideas back, some will run and others won’t. But perhaps those that don’t will be the seeds of other ideas that will.
4. Hold up creativity
Celebrating creativity through stories is a great way to bring the value to life for others, perhaps helping them to build the confidence to bring their own crazy idea forward. So find those stories and share them far and wide - newsletters, intranet, town halls, CEO and leaders comms.
5. Measure its impact
No matter how open your company is to trying new things, the majority of firms still like to see measurable impact. So have a think about how you can measure the impact of new initiatives - either quantitatively or anecdotally. And perhaps put a creativity or innovation question in your staff survey to track progress over time.
6. Celebrate success and failure
Celebrating success is important as it shows the positive impact a creative culture can have. However, celebrating failure is just as important - see some thoughts on that in Post #31
I'm with Picasso and Jobs on this one - we need to nurture and drive artistry, creativity and innovation in order to find those crazy ones who want to change the world!