In today’s hyper-connected, fast-moving global marketplace, businesses are racing to grow big—and fast.
Wall Street and private investors alike demand double-digit growth year after year.
Many executives and entrepreneurs fail to achieve their growth goals because they haven’t set up the right conditions.
Growth is a By-Product, Not a Goal
Profitability and customer loyalty are consequences of a business’s commitment to evolve, innovate and exceed their customers’ expectations.
Ironically, a focus on obsessive growth can often stifle innovation and marketing, the lifeblood of a business’s expansion efforts.
Just ask companies like Apple, Google, Netflix or any business that thrives in a competitive environment.
Or talk to Microsoft, Yahoo, and Blockbuster to learn how the competitors mentioned above swallowed their market share and left them irrelevant to their former customers.
In 2000, Proctor & Gamble issued several profit warnings, sending the stock tumbling to half its value.
A.G. Lafley arrives as the new chairman and CEO and shifts their focus to customer-centered innovations.
Profits tripled, and P&G became one of the most valuable companies in America.
Innovation and growth require unbridled creativity to innovate, solve problems and create a magical customer experience.
The key is to learn how to eliminate the barriers to rapid innovation.
Five lessons for Promoting Creativity and Innovation
Here are five lessons businesses must learn to unleash creativity and innovation in the workplace.
Lesson 1: Create an atmosphere where people are inspired to succeed rather than afraid to fail.
Failure is part of the process of innovation (just ask Thomas Edison), but the fear of failure blocks the creative impulse.
If employees are afraid of making mistakes, you can be sure creativity will die.
In fear, the brain toggles to the more primitive limbic system (responsible for basic emotions and coordination of movement), impairing access to the more evolved cerebral cortex (responsible for memory, problem-solving, communication and creativity).
When we fear, we mainly operate on “autopilot.”
Psychologist Abraham Maslow observed that creativity arises as a consequence of a positive mental state. When employees are happy and secure, you’re more likely to see an increase in creative contribution.
Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, found that the optimal learning environment combines a high degree of psychological safety with accountability for meeting demanding goals.
When employees feel safe, they are more likely to collaborate and learn on the job.
Creative business cultures cultivate environments that embrace failure as the precursor to success. Fail, but fail quickly and move on.
One of Southwest Airlines’ secrets to over 40 years of profitability is memorialized by their motto, “Risk More, Fail Faster.”
Many times, failure is the gateway to a breakthrough idea. Instead of fighting against failure, realize its value.
Lesson 2: Track performance by innovative contribution rather than time on the clock.
Why should we track how many hours employees spend at their desks?
Aren’t we interested in their success at innovating, making customers happy and growing the business?
In a global marketplace, the concept of nine-to-five is almost meaningless. We need to be more interested in outcomes, not time clocks—in results, not efficiency.
One can be efficiently busy yet ineffective at achieving results.
Each person needs different conditions for creating. Some people prefer working from home; others prefer working at night.
Realizing that some guidelines are needed, how flexible are you willing to become in the pursuit of a stronger, more profitable business?
Financial service provider The Motley Fools, for example, offers unlimited vacation time as long as employees “do an amazing job” and meet deadlines.
Lesson 3: Focus on allowing instead of doing.
Our Western culture is busy. In fact, corporate America and business in general, we’ve come to mistake busyness with business.
With an onslaught of e-mails, text messages, phone calls, social media notifications, and meetings, there’s no shortage of busyness. We always have something to do.
Little of our daily communication supports the creative process, which tends to favor allowing over doing.
We’ve all had a great idea pop into mind as we aimlessly walked through the woods, showered or cruised the highway.
Give your employees space to wander, play and create—even on non-work-related activities.
Google engineers, for example, spend 20 percent of their time working on whatever they want. Google trusts their talented employees to build useful and innovative things.
Lesson 4: Create an environment that lifts your employee’s spirits rather than drains their energy.
Conditions in the workplace should support positive, creative thinking. Most office space feels dead and lifeless. If you don’t create an environment where people enjoy working, how can you expect them to perform at their best?
If you don’t create an environment where people enjoy working, how can you expect them to perform at their best?
eBay’s headquarters has a dedicated meditation room. Google offers healthy, organic cuisine prepared by a gourmet chef. Check out high-rated companies from Fortune magazine’s
Check out high-rated companies from Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and model their favorable environments.
Research has demonstrated that fluorescent lighting has harmful effects on learning, performance, and mood. Replacing fluorescent lighting with full spectrum natural bulbs can affect the bottom line.
Surround the workspace with plants to bring more life into the environment. Be aware of wall colors, mounted pictures and paintings, and the use of floor space. All of these factors affect the environment’s energy.
Lesson 5: Foster creative collaboration rather than “just getting it done.”
Innovative companies understand that optimal business growth requires harmonious teams.
If you’re focusing on policies and systems instead of your people and the customers you serve, you’re bypassing the heart and soul of your business.
Without positive emotion and genuine connection, it’s nearly impossible to foster creativity.
Creative businesses support group collaboration and the free exchange of ideas.
Consider creating an “idea room” with whiteboards, comfortable chairs, fun music, healthy snacks, creative décor, even juggling balls.
Team members use the brain room to hold brainstorming sessions or problem-solving collaborations.
The innovative Brazilian company Semco, run by Ricardo Semler, has an “Out of Your Mind!” committee that meets periodically to consider unusual ideas that aren’t relevant to their existing business.
Providing a safe forum for employees to share their “crazy ideas” in an open and supportive environment can pave the way to extraordinary innovations.
Have fun, be creative, innovate, and watch your business grow!
Published on ceosage.com.
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