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Fostering Creativity and Innovation

Creativity is vital in nearly every industry and occupation, and companies are actively looking for innovative people who can effectively communicate their ideas, promoting greater productivity and furthering business. However, fostering imaginative ways of thinking often starts with a business’ corporate culture and its approach toward innovation, collaboration and recognition.

Encouraging Creativity

Image via Flickr by Kevin Dooley

Creativity is inherent in all people, but for some, it may lie dormant. To become a great leader and manager, one has to understand how to inspire others to think out of the box to solve problems. The same notion can be transferred to creating innovation within an organization, given employees may need to better understand a company’s ideas and goals before helping bring them to fruition. One avenue for achieving this is to implement a weekly open forum where all members of a team are invited to share general ideas about a project or initiative, giving the process numerous perspectives. This isn’t to say that each and every single idea will be great, but with enough conversation and suggestions, there is bound to be one idea that can be built on.

Dr. Kim Weller Gregory, assistant professor at the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, commented on the topic, stating, “Creativity and networked innovation is the key to surviving and thriving in today’s fiercely competitive, hyperturbulent business environment. The marketplace demands adaptation to rapid, relentless technological change, the development of a continual pipeline of game-changing products and services and an authentic, always-on engagement with consumers.” 

Value Diversity in Teams

Image via Flickr by Office of Governor Patrick

When a team is put together, it is tempting to group those with the same mindset together. However, this can stagnate a team and stifle creative solutions. Instead, teams should be comprised of individuals with varying mindsets and thought processes. It can be as simple as having people from different departments on the same problem-solving team. This offers a company an array of opinions for problems and helps generate new paths for creative solutions.

Again, this goes back to the notion of approaching a task from the vantage point of numerous perspectives. When grouping together individuals with different mindsets, a team also gains varying degrees of expertise and insight. For example, a group that has been struggling with a campaign to market a new consumer product may discover an entirely new path they may not have considered on their own when an individual from accounting is asked to weigh in. This approach to a peer culture is one that Pixar relies on heavily during its brainstorming processes.

Reward, Don't Stifle

Companies and teams often lack creativity simply because they’re not being rewarded for their innovative ideas. Many employees think that if they speak up, they will be reprimanded for going against the grain. Dr. Gregory also stated, “Organizations are challenged to create a culture of system-wide innovation fueled by shared passions and vision. Tomorrow’s great leaders understand that they must encourage open communication, curiosity and risk taking to foster the knowledge mining, trust and networked collaboration needed to inspire tomorrow’s disruptive ideas.”

It’s vital for managers to encourage originality and offer the right tools, such as entertaining team-building exercises, role-playing scenarios, open communication and letting employees know they will be rewarded for out-of-the-box thinking. In fact, a Cornell study found that “employees who take part in silly games think more creatively and develop more innovative solutions to problems.” Communication fluency is crucial here, since everyone needs to know that they won't have their ideas simply thrown out.

Encourage Education

Another proven method that will help companies inspire creative solutions is to advocate furthering education for its employees. For instance, the Master of Arts in Communication curriculum at Queens takes a myriad of topics, such as networking, effective communication and innovative thinking and delves into how individuals can reach their full potential. Thus, employees are able to explore new and traditional approaches and learn how to foster authentic collaborative relationships in the workplace. This process can also renew one’s confidence and passion for a job, and perhaps open up new possibilities for career transformation.

Even though creativity comes naturally, it is an ever-evolving process that needs to be nurtured and expressed. When individuals make the decision to continue their education with an online MA in Communication, they are making a commitment to better serve themselves and their companies as innovative and forward-thinking assets. Find out more about the link between higher education and creativity. Request more information about a communication degree today.