Get Creative: Inspiring innovation with a culture of curiosity

Get Creative: Inspiring innovation with a culture of curiosity

Published: November 8, 2017 by David Fabbri
Categories: B2B marketing

The modern economy offers boundless opportunity, but with it comes relentless competition. Gone are the days where slow and steady wins the race. If you don’t move ahead, you fall behind–quickly. Whether you’re a start-up bringing a disruptive product to market, or an established company finding ways to improve your products and processes for existing customers, evolution is essential. But most companies aren’t set up to succeed.

Don’t let today get in the way

The need to evolve is easy to identify, but not always easy to address. Companies hire people with the skills needed to tackle the tasks and problems of running the organization today. They are given goals and responsibilities–metrics and KPIs–that encourage focus on the tasks at hand, to help drive short-term performance. Good for right now, but not for the long run.

To move ahead, you need to get creative

Evolution is change, and change can only come from addressing old problems in new ways. By definition, a creative approach breaks from a “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality. Creative thinking provides fresh perspective and new ideas. It can help your team cut through bureaucracy, break through customer indifference and propel you past the competition.

Are you running a creative business?

Creativity comes in many forms. Advertising is often thought of as a creative business. In agencies, creativity is showcased in the work–art and copy that attracts, engages and builds emotional connections–but that only scratches the surface. From target research for meaningful insights, to leveraging new data, marketers must think creatively about the tools, tactics and channels that deliver the message with the most efficiency and oomph.

The same is true of every business: Creative approaches and solutions are needed across the enterprise to find a way to “do it better.” The companies that get creative and develop a culture that encourages and rewards creativity continue to improve, and are more often successful over time.

A Forrester study commissioned by Adobe on “how creativity impacts business results,” found that companies that foster creativity are 3.5 times more likely to achieve >10% revenue growth relative to their peers.

A similar study by McKinsey on “how winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth” found that, of those in the top quartile of creative companies:

  • 67% have above-average organic revenue growth
  • 70% have an above-average total return to shareholder (RTS) index

Curiosity supercharges creativity

It’s easy to say creative solutions are needed to evolve and improve a business, but where does creativity come from? As a modern, integrated marketing agency, we’re always looking to hire and inspire creative thinkers, but how do we define that? What makes someone more creative? Do you have to find creative thinkers, or is creativity something that can be fostered?

Turns out, an infusion of new information is often the best spark for creativity. Experts are quick to point out that creative solutions are rarely the proverbial “bolt from out of the blue”; rather, they’re often “a-ha!” moments discovered in new combinations of existing knowledge and ideas. Increasing our input, both directly and indirectly related to tasks at hand, increases fodder for new ideas and better solutions.

As a result, the people who are the most innovative are generally more actively curious. People who are interested in what’s going on in their industry and area of expertise, but who also have the passion (and are given the time) to go wider, find the most success. That could mean looking at other industries and broader cultural trends and thinking about how they could be applied to their situation.

The good news is that as human beings, we are all inherently curious. Turns out, to get more creativity and innovative thinking in your organization you probably don’t need to turn your staff over, you just need to turn them on–activate their curiosity to cultivate their creativity!

Here are 4 simple steps to start the engine of progress by leveraging curiosity to power creative thinking:

  1. Activate Exploration – Make discovery a virtue and an expectation. Allow time for digging around for new ideas. Why not make research and discovery time a trackable KPI?
  2. Energize Sharing – No two people see things the same way; the more raw material people have, the more likely they will be to make an exciting new connection. Create times and places people can share–whether it’s a weekly pow-wow, or a digital idea board (Pinterest is a great place to curate nuggets)–to give cool discoveries maximum exposure.
  3. Question Everything – This doesn’t mean nothing is OK as it is, it means nothing is off limits for review and improvement. Why have we always done things this way? What if we try something completely different?
  4. Celebrate Successes – When things change, especially for the better, find ways to celebrate the successes and the people who made them come to life. From tiny tweaks to immense innovations, reinforce the behavior you’re looking for with public praise.

Taking a look in the mirror

In our business, understanding what new ideas, tools and tactics could have meaningful impact for our clients is part of the value we deliver. We also keep a careful eye on our internal processes. In the fast-moving world of modern marketing, we know if we stand still, we could quickly become irrelevant.

No matter what business you’re in, the same is probably true for you. Standing still is no longer an option. The companies who iterate and innovate are the ones who will thrive and live to fight another day. Challenge yourself and your organization. Activate a culture of creativity and innovation. Fire up your team’s natural curiosity and help drive your company into the future.