Thought for the week

Is Culture Holding Back Your Company's Creativity?

How does culture affect creativity and can it deter innovation? Find out how you can make your company culture one that embraces your team's creativity so new ideas can develop.

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Creative thinking is essential to succeed in today's fast-paced, competitive business environment.

Deloitte research shows high-growth brands embed processes that facilitate creativity. This includes fostering a collaborative environment that encourages risk-taking and cross-functional interaction.

Harvard Business School says cognitive fixedness, a belief that there is only one way to interpret challenges and situations, is a major hindrance to growth. Without fresh ideas and thoughts, companies can become stagnant.

Leaders understand creativity has a fundamental role in organisations. But the pressure to please shareholders and meet targets leads many to prioritise analytics and data before embracing risk-taking. Some companies attempt to boost creativity through brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, these often result in half-hearted ideas that are more risk-averse than innovative, and often the follow-up from these sessions is very poor.

A report from Thinking on your feet involving 1,000 UK employees found the majority of respondents believe the actions of their managers and leaders fail to create a culture of creative thinking. 53% of people said leaders who put people on the spot in meetings and ask for presentations without enough time to prepare fail to foster people’s ability to improvise – affecting their creativity and performance.

Is culture to blame for a company’s lack of creativity?

Environments characterised by a lack of trust and fear result in resistance to change. You have to trust people to give them the space to express their true selves and look for alternative approaches to problems. They must also trust the people in charge; we need to feel psychologically safe to say something unconventional or risky.

A culture's creativity also depends on the positivity of its leaders. In an effort to create a popular Pixar film, Steve Jobs realised too much criticism had stopped his team's creative ideas from growing. He implemented a policy where criticism could only be offered if it provided a way to resolve an issue.

In competitive environments, people are more likely to find flaws in ideas than to work toward improving them. This is often so they can advocate for their own ideas and promote themselves instead of the team. Leaders may also side on an air of caution, preferring to stick to what they know than risk going out of their comfort zone. They may even feel threatened by hierarchically junior members coming up with stronger suggestions.

Your company's culture greatly influences your employees' creativity. The mindset of a leader who values creativity will trickle down and pass through an organisation. A leader who values toxicity through fear, competition, and distrust will almost inevitably stifle innovation.

The following strategies can help you unlock the potential of your company's creativity:

Train and promote Cultural Intelligence

CQ® (Cultural Intelligence) describes our ability to comprehend, communicate, and engage effectively with individuals from diverse cultures. People with a high CQ are generally excellent collaborators and communicators, which is crucial for the development of creative ideas.

There are ways you can develop your cultural intelligence. For instance, you can practice strategies for overcoming your own biases. Alternatively, you can work with a qualified CQ facilitator such as our CEO, Thom Dennis.

In the press: Read Thom Dennis’s article on cultural intelligence in Employer News.

Prioritise a collaborative culture

Move away from individual thinking and place a greater emphasis on teamwork. Encourage people to share and expand on each others' ideas, rather than foster an environment in which everyone is solely concerned about their own success. Ask people to explore solutions before expressing criticism.

Respect each employee's individuality

Fear often occurs when employees are grouped together, which is detrimental to a creative culture. Some people thrive when asked to present a last-minute presentation or think on their feet. But for others, there can be a feeling of embarrassment and fear associated with planning something last-minute.  

Address fear by becoming an ally for everyone. Create bespoke ways of communicating with staff so they feel comfortable expressing their concerns and fears. This can include open-door policies, anonymous suggestion boxes, or regular one-to-one meetings. Practise and encourage flexibility and transparency.

In the press: Read Thom’s article on how to banish a fear culture in HR Zone

Implement 'thinking time'

Google has implemented a policy whereby employees can take time off to focus on ideas. They say this has led to results such as the creation of Gmail. You can offer a similar strategy by eliminating meetings, emails, and communication channels such as Slack during certain hours. You can also encourage your staff to prioritise one specific task. As an example, you may set aside two hours each week solely for the purpose of finding creative solutions to problems.

Create cross-functional collaboration opportunities

More diversity equals more unique skills and knowledge. Exposure to different perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving techniques can help people expand their knowledge and increase their capacity for learning.

Businesses are constantly changing, and those who thrive must adapt. We have been improving the cultures within the biggest companies for thirty years. To explore how we can assist you in solving your creative problems, schedule an appointment today. This could include a sustainable diversity and inclusion strategy or a bespoke cultural revitalisation plan.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024
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Thought for the week

Is Culture Holding Back Your Company's Creativity?

How does culture affect creativity and can it deter innovation? Find out how you can make your company culture one that embraces your team's creativity so new ideas can develop.

Image caption here
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Creative thinking is essential to succeed in today's fast-paced, competitive business environment.

Deloitte research shows high-growth brands embed processes that facilitate creativity. This includes fostering a collaborative environment that encourages risk-taking and cross-functional interaction.

Harvard Business School says cognitive fixedness, a belief that there is only one way to interpret challenges and situations, is a major hindrance to growth. Without fresh ideas and thoughts, companies can become stagnant.

Leaders understand creativity has a fundamental role in organisations. But the pressure to please shareholders and meet targets leads many to prioritise analytics and data before embracing risk-taking. Some companies attempt to boost creativity through brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, these often result in half-hearted ideas that are more risk-averse than innovative, and often the follow-up from these sessions is very poor.

A report from Thinking on your feet involving 1,000 UK employees found the majority of respondents believe the actions of their managers and leaders fail to create a culture of creative thinking. 53% of people said leaders who put people on the spot in meetings and ask for presentations without enough time to prepare fail to foster people’s ability to improvise – affecting their creativity and performance.

Is culture to blame for a company’s lack of creativity?

Environments characterised by a lack of trust and fear result in resistance to change. You have to trust people to give them the space to express their true selves and look for alternative approaches to problems. They must also trust the people in charge; we need to feel psychologically safe to say something unconventional or risky.

A culture's creativity also depends on the positivity of its leaders. In an effort to create a popular Pixar film, Steve Jobs realised too much criticism had stopped his team's creative ideas from growing. He implemented a policy where criticism could only be offered if it provided a way to resolve an issue.

In competitive environments, people are more likely to find flaws in ideas than to work toward improving them. This is often so they can advocate for their own ideas and promote themselves instead of the team. Leaders may also side on an air of caution, preferring to stick to what they know than risk going out of their comfort zone. They may even feel threatened by hierarchically junior members coming up with stronger suggestions.

Your company's culture greatly influences your employees' creativity. The mindset of a leader who values creativity will trickle down and pass through an organisation. A leader who values toxicity through fear, competition, and distrust will almost inevitably stifle innovation.

The following strategies can help you unlock the potential of your company's creativity:

Train and promote Cultural Intelligence

CQ® (Cultural Intelligence) describes our ability to comprehend, communicate, and engage effectively with individuals from diverse cultures. People with a high CQ are generally excellent collaborators and communicators, which is crucial for the development of creative ideas.

There are ways you can develop your cultural intelligence. For instance, you can practice strategies for overcoming your own biases. Alternatively, you can work with a qualified CQ facilitator such as our CEO, Thom Dennis.

In the press: Read Thom Dennis’s article on cultural intelligence in Employer News.

Prioritise a collaborative culture

Move away from individual thinking and place a greater emphasis on teamwork. Encourage people to share and expand on each others' ideas, rather than foster an environment in which everyone is solely concerned about their own success. Ask people to explore solutions before expressing criticism.

Respect each employee's individuality

Fear often occurs when employees are grouped together, which is detrimental to a creative culture. Some people thrive when asked to present a last-minute presentation or think on their feet. But for others, there can be a feeling of embarrassment and fear associated with planning something last-minute.  

Address fear by becoming an ally for everyone. Create bespoke ways of communicating with staff so they feel comfortable expressing their concerns and fears. This can include open-door policies, anonymous suggestion boxes, or regular one-to-one meetings. Practise and encourage flexibility and transparency.

In the press: Read Thom’s article on how to banish a fear culture in HR Zone

Implement 'thinking time'

Google has implemented a policy whereby employees can take time off to focus on ideas. They say this has led to results such as the creation of Gmail. You can offer a similar strategy by eliminating meetings, emails, and communication channels such as Slack during certain hours. You can also encourage your staff to prioritise one specific task. As an example, you may set aside two hours each week solely for the purpose of finding creative solutions to problems.

Create cross-functional collaboration opportunities

More diversity equals more unique skills and knowledge. Exposure to different perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving techniques can help people expand their knowledge and increase their capacity for learning.

Businesses are constantly changing, and those who thrive must adapt. We have been improving the cultures within the biggest companies for thirty years. To explore how we can assist you in solving your creative problems, schedule an appointment today. This could include a sustainable diversity and inclusion strategy or a bespoke cultural revitalisation plan.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Contributed by:

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