How leading organizations foster creative culture in the workplace

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 in Create | 2 Comments
How leading organizations foster creative culture in the workplace

Organizations like Apple are the envy of the world, because of their consistent innovation and creativity. What role does creative culture in the workplace play? What makes some organizations more creative than others? Why do some companies constantly attract the best talent? How do they keep alive the hunger for innovation, product after product? Image: apple products

apple products

Apple’s creative culture is responsible for some of the best-selling products of our times

[Photo credit: www.phonedog.com] The culture of an organization plays a significant role in fostering innovation and creativity. So what makes up the creative DNA of some leading technology and design companies? There are, most definitely, some common principles these creative hotspots uphold. They let anyone speak up Most creative companies encourage a democratic discussion of ideas. Seniors do not have a stranglehold on ideas; new concepts are welcomed from anywhere. In a secure environment, ideas flourish. Creative people who know that the management will have their back, enjoy the freedom to focus on their work. As Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar says “Pixar is a community in the true sense of the word. We think that lasting relationships matter, and we share some basic beliefs: Talent is rare. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the capability to recover when failures occur. It must be safe to tell the truth” They don’t limit your imagination In the initial process of innovation or creativity, it is crucial to let imagination take wing. “Almost everyone who has had an idea that’s somewhat revolutionary or wildly successful was first told they were insane”, says Larry Page, CEO, Google. Out of these flights of fancy, are born genuine innovations. Image: Google slide

The path to creativity is not always linear: A twisted slide at the Google office

The path to creativity is not always linear: A twisted slide at the Google office

[Photo credit: www.funonthenet.in] As Tim Brown of IDEO says, wanting to know if something will work, will kill a lot of good ideas even before they are properly fleshed out.  He believes, “The biggest barrier is needing to know the answer before you get started. A desire to have proof that your idea is worthwhile before the project is started.” They work as teams A team that functions together like a well-oiled machine, will be more productive than one where people work in isolation. Apple is a wonderful example of teamwork at work. As JonyIve says, “Designing, engineering and making these products requires large teams. Most of us have worked together for 15 to 20 years. That’s useful. We can be bitterly critical of our work. The personal issues of ego have long since faded.” Image: Frog

A team sparking off creative ideas at Frog

A team sparking off creative ideas at Frog

[Photo credit: www.frogdesign.com] They give you room to disrupt An organization that does not have a clearly stated agenda of innovation, will do nothing new. Contrary to popular belief, ideas are not often born in moments of lightning-strike-inspiration, but by constant, disciplined effort. Of course, making the leap does require inspiration, but it also needs an environment or culture of creativity for the leap to happen. Many leading organizations have programs to incubate creativity. Facebook has its Creative Labs, Google its Innovation Lab, and so on. Discover more about the pathbreaking innovations at Google’s innovation lab here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LagJDDW7epM Michael Di Tullo, Creative Director, Frog, talks about how innovation always comes from rebels. He says there are “destructive rebels, and constructive rebels. Destructive rebels tend to be cast out from the group, but constructive rebels tend to alter the nature of the tribe itself. If you are going to be a constructive rebel, you have to explain your intentions well so the group can understand and adapt.” Which leads us to our next point: They let you communicate your idea effectively A lot of wonderful ideas have died even before birth because of an inability to communicate them correctly. Creative people need the communication skills to sell good ideas, be it within the organization or outside. An inclusive, innovative organization welcomes new ideas; and gives their creators an opportunity to present their case. Image: Ideo presentation

A presentation on fonts at IDEO. Being able to present your ideas is a vital skill.

A presentation on fonts at IDEO. Being able to present your ideas is a vital skill.

[Photo credit: www.ideo.com] Michael DiTullo further singles out a willingness to change as the success behind any creative endeavour. He cites the case of BMW, which brought in radical changes which were shocking at the time. He says “…looking back at them 5 years later, it is easy to see they will be classics. To disrupt the marketplace, create icons that will be future classics, and transform a brand into a global leader it takes people at the very top who are comfortable with risk…What matters to me as a designer is that I have access to the person who has the ability to say yes or no, and that person be open to change.” Image: Michael DiTullo

Michael DiTullo of Frog believes that change fuels creativity

Michael DiTullo of Frog believes that change fuels creativity

Photo credit: www.core77.com Image caption: Michael DiTullo of Frog believes that change fuels creativity. They make work fun Ties constrict. Cubicles constrain. It may be a cliché, but the atmosphere of your workplace could hinder or foster your creativity. Creative, innovative agencies or companies create workplaces that are colourful, fun, friendly and informal. Google, as Nelson Mattas, Vice President, Engineering, says, benefits from an open work environment.  “The lava lamps, free food and games are all part of the Google culture. It is informal and a structure that isn’t dictated from the top,” he says. Image: Facebook

Ever minimized a game window when your boss walked in? Facebook wants its employees to play

Ever minimized a game window when your boss walked in? Facebook wants its employees to play

[Photocredit: www.time.com] Prasad Setty, VP, People Analytics, Google, says the company’s approach to its people, is marked by trust. “One of the tenets we strongly believe in, is if you give people freedom, they will amaze you.” View this slideshow of more colourful offices around the world.

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  • glassdoor
  • groupon
  • microsoft
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They inspire you Folks at a really creative organization buy into the passion that drives it. Its history of creativity becomes sacred to them, a matter of pride and inspiration. At Nike, stories of the company’s origins are mythologised. The tale of how Phil Knight, a runner himself, drove around selling shoes, is legend. Image: Nike Waffle

Nike proudly displays original sole design made with a waffle iron, and builds legend.

Nike proudly displays original sole design made with a waffle iron, and builds legend.

[Photo credit: www.thehop.thehue.ca] Former Apple employee, Chad Little, says that folks at Apple “..feel they are changing the world with what they are doing. Apple is one of those companies where people work on an almost religious level of commitment.” The most creative companies, ultimately, inspire their teams to think beyond themselves. As IDEO’s Tim Brown puts it, “You’ve got to be prepared to measure yourself by the impact that you have on the world.”

 

2 Comments

  1. Chris Pelling
    April 23, 2014

    Great post. 2 of the items above in particular struck a chord with me:
    1. They let you speak up.
    2. They let you communicate your idea effectively.

    It is very empowering when you realize you can change things for the better, and if you work at a place where you can voice your ideas and those ideas get heard, it is better for employee and employer.

    Glad to see culture is getting the attention it deserves. It makes a huge difference between successful companies and unsuccessful ones, and if done right can greatly improve the quality of life in your day-to-day life.

    Reply
    • theWTFactory
      April 23, 2014

      Agreed, it’s so important for all to be able to engage and speak up in order to have a true creative culture. We are in the “creative economy”. Thanks for your contribution to the discussion!

      Reply

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