how to create a work environment that nurtures innovation

11772144_sCreating a work environment that encourages creativity while still maintaining some sort of order and adherence to company policy isn’t as easy as it sounds. After all, you can’t let one person bend the rules to the breaking point without running the risk of discouraging other employees. How do you encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking without ending up with chaos? Below are a few ideas:

Schedule brainstorming

Sitting around thinking of ideas may not sound important when there are a myriad of other things to get done, but it is. Scheduling brainstorming sessions sends the message that creativity is encouraged and allows all members of the staff to contribute, not just the ones with “creative” titles. Plus, there’s the old adage that “one plus one equals four,” meaning that you’ll realize a greater result with more than one employee working on a creative project.

Reward creativity

Everyone likes to be recognized and rewards go a long way in motivating employees and making them feel valued. The rewards don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. A parking space for a month near the entrance to your building, an extra hour for lunch, a gift certificate to a local restaurant can all be motivating.

Allow for individual time

Although teams can be great for achieving many company goals, creativity is almost always a solitary activity. Companies that force workers into teams eight hours a day are discouraging creativity without even knowing it.

Be open to new ideas

This may sound like an obvious step to encouraging creativity, but many bosses or middle managers are threatened by change and new ideas and consciously (or unconsciously) discourage them. Your employees aren’t going to come up with an innovative marketing idea if they are always met with “that’s not the way we’ve always done things.”

Accept a certain amount of failure

Risk is a necessary by-product of creativity. If your company culture doesn’t allow for any failure, it also doesn’t allow for any creativity. Of course, you don’t want to lose a big client (or any client), but playing it too safe can backfire by making employees afraid to do something a little different.

Offer “daydream time”

Does anyone ever come up with a good idea when they’re sitting at the desk trying to hatch that creative though? Rarely. Instead, those ideas arrive when you’re in the shower, driving to work or sitting by the beach. Realizing this, several major companies have sanctioned time at work for daydreaming, according to “Psychology Today.” Google calls it their 20% program; 3M calls it the 15% program and Gore & Associates (makers of Gore-Tex and other products) calls it “dabble time.” All claim it has spawned some of their most successful products.

Creativity is essential for marketing and branding companies to thrive. Make sure that your office is nurturing this type of thought, with a company culture that rewards (rather than squashes) new ideas.

randy bowden – t | f | g+

(image:123RF)

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