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Is your business CREATIVELY competitive?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Long before Brexit and the COVID-19 Crisis, organizations have been operating in a VUCA business environment – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. If you want to challenge your employees whilst opening the door to endless opportunities, you need creativity. This is not the same as innovation one should note, as Tucker Marion (the associate professor of a School of Business and director of a ‘Master of Science in Innovation’ program) points out that “Creativity is different because creativity is a mechanism to being innovative. You can have great ideas, but not be innovative”.

It is clear that you cannot innovate without creativity, but why do you need to innovate? A recent survey by IBM of 1,500 chief executive officers identified three key findings that answer this for us. Firstly, the CEOs valued creativity above all else (management discipline, vision, rigour, and more). Secondly, 80% of them expected their industry to become more complex. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, less than half of CEOs surveyed believed their organisations to be equipped to deal with their industry’s increasing complexity.

The next question for business leader. How do you encourage and use creativity to evolve your business? Using Motivational Maps® we recognise 3 primary drivers of innovation (Creator, Searcher, and Spirit), each with a different approach. It’s useful to know about these because we often make assumptions about what’s driving certain behaviour (e.g. creativity) and then become confused or frustrated when that person then behaves in an unexpected way. For example, the motivator ‘Creator’ is associated with original, innovative and novel thinking, ideas and problem solving, whilst ‘Searchers’ focus on continuous improvement and ‘Spirits’ are associated with break out/disruptive innovation. Creators usually start with ‘concepts’. For example, why do people need to own music when they could rent it (e.g. Spotify).

All three types of motivation are highly valuable to organisations, but Creators are essential for innovation and moving into the industries of the future; they will lift an organisation to an entirely different level or platform through ground breaking work. They are the most comfortable with ambiguity, concepts rather than tangible or meaningful work. On the flipside, they can enjoy the conceptual problem solving so much, they get stuck in the design loop.

Not only is creativity vital for business development and innovation, but is also creates a more powerful and effective workforce. Creative thinking and creative tasks have been shown to reduce stress, boost mood, increase bonding at work, and make work more interesting (often cited as the most important aspect of a job in research). Employees are healthier, more productive, even happier when given the freedom to be creative, and this doesn’t even account for the benefits to a business’ direction and offerings.

Currently, just 19% of senior executives report growth or innovation as a part of the strategic-planning process; you can become part of that 19%, and differentiate yourself from the other 81% of businesses not preparing for the future. Research tells us that innovation must stem from leaders and become part of the business culture. Nintendo is a great example of this, as they have developed a culture through strong leadership where employees like and need to play with ideas. There is a special ‘play’ buzz Creators get when they are being creative – like musicians jamming together. To encourage this in your business you can separate routine work from creative time, try using different, more stimulating spaces and materials, and experiment structured problem-solving techniques to ‘free’ creativity whilst ensuring it will result in insights and solutions.

Creativity comes in a range of forms, but you need some form of it in your business. You should actively encourage this, whilst also seeking to understand what your employees want and when; this helps employees and leaders make the most of creativity. Motivational Maps® can help you to understand your employees’ creative needs, thus developing your internal culture to be creative, then innovative, and then competitive.

Jan Feeley
Jan Feeley, MSc

Assistant Psychological Therapist by day, coach by evening and weekend! I'm a firm believer in collaborative working both clinically and more generally, and am keen to use people's expertise about themselves to make meaningful and energising changes in their life. Passionate about mental health, wellbeing, and self-care; determined to make a difference. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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