Creativity is an intangible most companies talk about but few achieve.
Forrester Consulting research, commissioned by Adobe, has found that companies embracing creativity outperform competitors on revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition.
These companies enjoy a high performance working environment, driven by progressive leaders and managers who provide processes, methods, and funding to back creative initiatives.
Here are 5 ways creativity in the workplace can bolster a company’s bottom line.
- Embrace a creative mindset.
Asking employees to “be more creative” won’t change anything without incorporating creative tasks, tools, and techniques into business strategy and execution.
This emphasis must start at the top.
“When a CEO fosters creativity and puts the resources and funding in place to support it throughout the company, it can change the whole focus,” said the creative director at a multinational food and beverage company.
Organisations fully embracing creativity in the workplace often reserve budget, or hire a dedicated creative design officer or chief creative officer onto the executive staff to signal to employees that creativity is as important to the business as engineering, HR, finance, and sales.
Leadership should encourage employees to go beyond the obvious solutions by creating a culture that asks “what else?” or “what next?” They should highlight creative accomplishments at the company meeting, shoot an executive video on the subject, or include creative achievements in internal communications like emails, blog posts, or comments on internal social networks.
- Put creativity on the business agenda.
Top executives make a commitment to creativity by including goals related to creativity in the company’s business strategy.
They back this up by measuring teams against not only the number of new ideas generated, for example, but how well teams prioritize those ideas, incorporate needed changes into business processes, and bring the ideas to market.
They actively help teams prioritise creatively inspired projects, celebrate key creative breakthroughs and personally recognise creative results.
They also shake things up and add diversity to the mix.
As the digital creative director at a global advertising and marketing enterprise said: “You have to change their physical environment, allow people to mingle, and get different disciplines together to share perspectives.”
- Reward creative gambles regardless of payoff.
When a creative director at a global advertising and marketing firm said, “You need to be willing to take risks, willing to fail, willing to not follow in line with everyone else,” he summarised what several others noted — how embracing risk and trying novel approaches is critical to fostering creativity.
Besides obvious approaches, such as setting aside budget and resources to experiment with new approaches, product ideas, or technologies, executives should be transparent about how the business takes certain risks and share which ones worked out, which did not, and the role creativity played in each. To avoid the downside of risk, they should set specific criteria, such as limiting the scope or setting up cross-functional reviews, when undertaking more risky creative projects.
- Embrace creativity to make your brand experience stand apart.
Interviewees tell us they see creative brands get products to market faster, enjoy a price premium from buyers, have more people who speak on their behalf, and disrupt their traditional markets with new ideas and approaches.
To make creativity pay off in results like these, business and creative leaders get to know their audience, understand what’s important to them, and describe their pain points in intimate detail.
They should use this knowledge to create smart, provocative experiences that make both prospects and existing customers think or see things differently.
- Invest in technology to support both creative experimentation and collaboration with customers.
It’s not enough to simply adopt technology early.
To earn creative dividends, companies use technology to better serve their customers and business goals.
They don’t look for off-the-shelf solutions, but bend and adapt technical capabilities to create bold new ways of running the business or engaging with buyers.
The director of technology at a global advertising and marketing enterprise expressed this well by sharing how he sees creative companies as particularly adept at “making the intangible tangible by using technology to turn ideas into prototypes or simulations that clients can actually see and play around with”.
Business leaders should increase their team’s technical fluency and sophistication by investing in tools that help them collaborate, share ideas, and get the creative juices to flow.
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