Regardless of industry, company size, or job title, creativity lives in all of us.
Now, that doesn’t mean we are all artists or designers. It just means everyone is capable of creative thinking and unconformity. Creativity is just as much about using imagination and new ways of thinking to solve problems or meet business objectives as it is about making a new YouTube video. Creativity brings us the new ideas and strategies that help our companies grow, keep them relevant, increase customer affinity, and impact the bottom line. We are all creative in our own way—whether or not we reside in the creative department.
So how do you effectively encourage your teams to flex their creative muscles? For this installment of our “CMO Wants To Know” series, we reached out to five industry experts for their best how-to advice.
“It’s easy in marketing to focus on technology and performance, but without the ability to tell a story and design a concept that connects with people, no marketing program will achieve breakout success. Inside IBM iX marketers are encouraged to think freely, be their authentic selves, and express ideas they are passionate about. When we’re excited about an idea it catches fire–people can not only see it, but feel it. We start our weekly staff meeting with this principle–creative ideas. We prioritize our time as a team looking for everyday inspiration, in both a consumer or business setting. We take regular walking meetings outside, to shake up our work week, connect, and ideate around a challenge on our team.
Creative inspiration strikes at any moment. As a leader I feel passionate about giving employees the space in their day to get away from an execution mindset and find that creative moment. An essential element of IBM iX business is thinking differently about business problems, and focusing on how humans engage and interact with technology.”
“So, instead of setting aside a time or place for creative discussion, we make room for random moments of creativity all day long. We use the last 10 minutes of an hour in our schedule as time allowed to connect and talk with anyone about anything. This allows 10 minutes per hour for creative ideas to be discussed. We don’t want to miss the moment or the idea, but we also know that people need time to get other things done. The get-done time is saved for the first 50 minutes of every hour and the last 10 is for communicating anything and everything.”
“Perpetual innovation is the new normal, so leaders who are brave enough to unlock a culture that enables creativity through calculated risk-taking will come out ahead of their competition. In order to do this, leaders need team members who can build this type of environment. Ultimately, people are the drivers of culture. This means some of the most important decisions you make as a business leader are related to talent and team structure.
Marketing is a hotbed of innovation, and it’s always changing. To ensure my teams can keep up, I look for talent with agility, open-mindedness, and sharp critical thinking. These qualities are often more important to me than an individual’s hard skills or career trajectory. I’m very open to nontraditional career paths because a network of people with diverse experiences creates the foundation for a creative culture.
I am a big believer in cross-functional teams. They foster creativity by allowing team members with vastly different experiences to think critically about the same problem. The tension between different ways of thinking is what ultimately creates that spark of genius. Additionally, within marketing, there’s huge value in rotational programs that allow team members to test-drive different roles. These programs build empathy among teammates. Empathy enables them to work as a hive and use their collective knowledge and experience to find creative solutions to the most pressing business problems.”
“But in high-pressure work environments, the challenge is finding the headspace to make the unexpected connections that foster creativity. One small solution: At Accenture a few weeks ago, I launched “Take One Minute”—a weekly 60-second creative exercise for the 1,000-plus members of my marketing and communications team. Assignments are conveyed through recurring calendar invites—complete a one-minute task or share a small truth, for example—encouraging purposeful thinking and interrupting the daily and mundane. The first one-minute mission was to draw an ugly duckling, based on my team’s cultural imperative of sharing work with each other ‘early, ugly, and often.’ Results were joyful!”
“A good way for remote teams to keep the creativity going is to share articles and discuss ideas on how we can improve or create new avenues for our marketing.”