Creativity is unlimited. Asked to imagine someone creative, people usually picture an artist, a musician, a writer. Yet there are creative business people as well –– and some of them change the world. Don’t believe me? Think about Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Five decades ago computers were huge ugly boxes, their use limited mainly to offices and the very tech-orientated. Today they are works of accessible art that can fit in your pocket. As Jobs once explained, “We started out to get a computer in the hands of everyday people, and we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Today the company’s customers are so loyal they are nicknamed “The Cult of Apple.” Famously, it was a college calligraphy course that convinced Jobs to include the multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts on the Mac.
LinkedIn listed creativity as the soft skill companies need the most and executives clearly value it. Yet many admit their own company lacks that creative spirit. So whether you’re in the C-suite, running a small business owner, or motivating your team, what is the importance of creativity in business?
Creativity Fosters Innovation
As writer Anastasia Shch explains, “Creativity in business is a way of thinking that inspires, challenges, and helps people to find innovative solutions and create opportunities out of problems.” She points out that creativity in business is the source of innovation and inspiration.
A creative company is different from an innovative one. Creativity is the spark, innovation is the fire. You can’t have one without the other. Yet despite being a desirable attribute for most hiring managers, inspiring it in the workplace can be difficult. Fear of failure has killed many great ideas. So start by removing that impediment. Initiate brainstorming sessions and support the results. One great exercise is borrowed from Improv. One person says something, the next follows with “Yes, and…,” before adding more detail. The exercise is effective because it removes “No” from the equation.
The importance of creativity in business can be seen in how creative people are more likely to accept ambiguity. This means they are open to change and focused on the future. Given how different the economic landscape today is compared to the last century, that’s a vital talent. Unfortunately, while one study showed that 80% of CEOs they surveyed expected their own industry would become significantly more complex in the future, less than half were confident their organizations were equipped to deal with it.
Creative Workplaces are Happier and Healthier
Turns out creative activities can improve our mental and physical health. In fact, creativity is the basis of being human. That state of flow where you are completely focused on a project is a happy side effect of being creative. It also reduces anxiety and even slows your heart rate –– pretty ideal for a demanding job. Completing a creative task like writing a blog or putting together a pitch deck actually releases that happy brain chemical dopamine. This reward can motivate employees to repeat their creative behavior as often as possible.
Accept the Different
A creative workforce almost by definition is a diverse workforce. Unfortunately, diversity is often viewed as external –– a person’s race or gender. Diversity encompasses so much more. It means being open to hiring people from small towns or underprivileged backgrounds. It means interviewing candidates who attended second-tier universities –– or even none at all. It means hiring people who majored in art history rather than economics and welcoming a variety of political views. Most of all, it means working hard to craft a workplace where every one of them feels valued and accepted.
It can also mean liberalizing your office schedule. If you expect people to work eight-to-five, Monday through Friday you’re already limiting candidates. Lots of creative folks are night owls. Some prefer to work from home. Indeed, the remote work revolution has connected innumerable creatives to businesses that might never have gotten them into an office. Ironically, innovative Apple is getting pushback from long-time employees who value working from home full time even as the company pushes them to accept a hybrid model where they are in-office three days a week.
If all this seems like a lot of work, keep in mind that creative companies have been shown to be more profitable. Which means the fastest way to improve your company’s fortunes is to prioritize creativity.
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