What do Google, Nordstrom and Zappos have in common? Not only are each of these companies regularly on national lists for best companies to work for, but each company also provides employees with regular opportunities for creative thinking outside of their primary projects and responsibilities. Gmail, Google Earth and Google AdSense are just a few of Google’s projects birthed from its famous ’20 percent time’ – the 20 percent of the workweek Google employees spend pursuing creative projects.
The payoff for investing in employee creativity is vast. Whether you are a Fortune 500 executive or supervise a small team, carving out time for creative thinking is critical for attracting and engaging top talent, growing an effective leadership pipeline and staying profitable by staying ahead of the competition.
Here are four ways to foster creativity, irrespective of your industry, size, or budget:
1. Take an existing program or service, throw it up in the air and consider how it can reach more people and provide them with greater positive impact. Whether your answer is creating an online community for your clients to communicate with each other or offering free face-to-face or virtual education to build interest in your offerings, frequently our greatest innovation come from a subtle tweak of what we have already created.
2. Create a workplace environment that reframes failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Most of the greatest business minds of our time, from Bill Gates and Mark Cuban to Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey, have failed as often – if not more than – they have succeeded. To deliver greatness, you need to make it permissible to miss the mark every now and again.
3. In these difficult economic times it may be unrealistic for you to give employees a dedicated day each week for brainstorming new ideas, but it may be possible to give employees one day per month or quarter. To ensure that ‘creative time’ is mutually beneficial, consider creating a basic structure for how success will be measured, prioritizing strategic risk-taking and imagination over a specific result.
4. Some of the best creative thinking happens when people play together in new ways that allow them to use their heads and their hearts. Consider taking employees outside of your four walls for a day of community service or physical activity. You could also bring in a creativity expert to lead your staff in a day of teambuilding, improvisation or some other creative outlet. [If this is peaking your interest, let's talk! I'm currently booking corporate speaking, training, and retreats for November 2012 and beyond.]
The above selection comes from my recent Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Business Voice article. To read the publication in its entirety, visit HERE.