“Creativity is one of the last remaining legal ways of gaining an unfair advantage over the competition.” - Ed McCabe, widely considered to be one of the most creative copywriters and the youngest person ever elected to the One Club Hall of Fame.
We tend to agree with McCabe that creativity and creative problem-solving are more imperative than ever, especially as tech becomes more ubiquitous in our lives.
So how can you bolster this skillset within your team? Here are three areas that can boost creative thinking within teams and a few case studies of how brands from Shopify to Oxo do it.
Getting More Intentional About Mentorship
People that are provided with a platform to share ideas and feel that they have permission to make mistakes are inherently going to feel more unihibited to experiment and think outside the box. While company culture as a whole has an impact on this, mentorship and 1:1 relationships have an immense impact within organizations, whether with a manager or with access to mentorship from other senior leaders of the business. We’ve all heard of the saying, “People don’t quit their job, they quit their managers.”
One way that Evernote looks to boost creative experimentation is through something they call “The Dialogue Box.” Senior managers assume 1-hour shifts working at their office’s coffee shop where employees are encouraged to drop by for candid conversations and to pitch new ideas.
Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, so a mentorship strategy that allows employees to share ideas and engage with a diverse group of senior leaders is in the best interest of every business.
Critically Thinking About Your Physical Space & Meetings
While the balance of work-from-home and working from an office is company-specific, you need to provide functional reasons why someone would want to come into the office. How are you creating spaces to support collaboration and promote creativity? The office should be focused on things that can’t be achieved in a home environment (or can't be achieved as effectively).
We need to think more intentionally about our spaces if we desire people to want to return to them. Oxo, a houseware brand that creates everything from kitchen to
bathroom products, does exactly this. Displaying lost gloves on their boardroom walls as a reminder of all the different hands their products need to fit. The wall even made its way into the company's brand video and is part of Oxo’s entire ethos.
Shopify on the other hand allows organic spur-of-the-moment meetings and connections to happen rather than having to book a more formal meeting by providing meeting rooms that cannot be booked in advance. This allows for more spontaneous conversations and connections.
We’re living in a more virtual work environment in 2023 than we ever have before and the good news is that nearly 80% of employees think they’ve been just as or more productive than they were before the pandemic. The bad news? Less than half of leaders agree according to Microsoft’s Work Trends Index. It’s hard to measure where the truth actually lies, but it’s clear that many companies have a clear divide on the effectiveness of virtual and hybrid work environments, and typically that divide is between employees and senior leadership. How are you making sure that your IRL touch points with colleagues are making the most impact and are not replicable in a virtual environment?
Building a Company Culture That Incentivizes Ideation
Building a culture that’s not only receptive to new ideas but also incentivizes them is key.
Tata Motors Limited, a multinational automotive manufacturing company, rewards innovation behaviours by giving out the “Dare to Try” award to celebrate the most novel, darling and seriously attempted ideas that didn’t achieve the desired result. It’s evident that Tata believes it’s riskier to stick with the status quo than it is to fail at a new idea.
We’ve mentioned Adobe’s “Kickbox” on our blog before, but it’s a do-it-yourself innovation kit containing everything an employee needs to generate, prototype, and test a new idea and $1,000 to spend however they want to make their idea happen.
If creativity is the last remaining legal way to gain an unfair advantage over your competitors, it’s time to ask yourself when is the last time you sat down and assessed how your mentorship programs, physical space/meetings and company culture can best serve your employees to think outside of the box. With the right mindset, environment and tools, teams can achieve extraordinary things. If you’re looking for tools to help your team creatively problem-solve and tackle current challenges, we have over 20 that teach crucial skills included as a part of our ThinkShop program.