Creativity: Your Key to Unlocking Innovation

(Our author today is our wonderful colleague Robert Mapstead, Director of Learning and Instructional Design for our NextGen Services Group. Robert brings a strong creative mindset and voice to his work every day, so there is no one better to be talking about today’s topic: creativity. Enjoy!)

Coming up with creative ideas is critical in this ever-changing business world. And without effective communication skills, the ability to express those creative ideas is lost. Creativity, like communication, is a keystone skill for business success.

At The Latimer Group, we have spent over 20 years helping clients encourage creative progress through skill development in communication. In this blog post, “Do you allow your team to get creative? Are you Sure?“, our CEO, Dean Brenner shares a relevant case study: “…the creativity flowed and it was highly valuable, especially during a period when there is much anxiety and so many unknowns. At base, it created a fun conversation, during a time when fun was a little harder to find.”

The team brainstorming session Dean described required a creative approach to communication that went beyond the typical, inefficient manner of conducting meetings we often encounter in corporate America.

In order to encourage creativity, it is important to create an environment for your team that features communication discipline. This has two parts to it:

  1. At The Latimer Group, we recommend creating a space that is free of distractions, where employees can focus on their work undisturbed. How often do you see people in an open-office environment with their headphones on? Why do they do this? It’s a polite visual cue to their co-workers that they are deep in thought and don’t want to be disturbed.
  2. We also recommend encouraging collaboration and teamwork, as this can lead to new ideas and approaches that might not have been possible otherwise.

How do you encourage collaboration while at the same time creating a space free of distractions? This is done through outcome-oriented and efficient brain-storming meetings. The participants come prepared to be creative and share ideas that are at sometimes “out-there”, but often these ideas lead to even better derivative ideas.

Another key factor in encouraging creativity is providing employees with the tools and resources they need to be creative. This might include access to:

  1. Specialized software or equipment. Examples include creative online graphics/video tools or project development tools to collaborate on ideas.
  2. Training and development opportunities that can help employees develop their creative skills. One benefit of working at The Latimer Group is that I am given time to participate in a weekly Toastmasters meeting to improve my own communication skills in a variety of creative speaking engagements.

Creativity can also be nurtured by giving employees the freedom to experiment and take risks. At The Latimer Group we guide clients on creating a culture where it is okay to fail, as long as our employees are learning from their mistakes and taking steps to improve. A fear of failure can often stifle creativity and innovation.

Many companies verbally encourage employees to take risks, but there is often a caveat: how much will the employees risk-taking cost in case of failure? Make sure your employees know what their financial boundaries are for a failure. For a small company, it might be taking risks that won’t cost the company more than $500. For a larger company it might be limiting financial exposure to $50,000. Either way the employee needs to have financial boundaries for taking risks, and those boundaries need to be effectively communicated by the leadership team.

Finally, it is important to recognize and reward creativity within the organization. At The Latimer Group we suggest creating a clearly conveyed and equitably applied system of recognition and reward that encourages employees to be creative and innovative. This might include incentives such as bonuses or promotions, as well as public recognition for creative achievements.

In conclusion, in order to encourage creativity, we recommend using effective internal communication techniques to:

  • create an environment that is favorable to creative thinking
  • provide employees with the tools and resources they need to be creative
  • give employees the freedom to experiment and take risks
  • recognize and reward creativity within the organization

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

We transform teams and individuals with repeatable toolsets for persuasive communication.
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Robert Mapstead

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.