To fuel creativity there has to be an environment that offers motivation for employees to get creative. Whether it’s rewards, intrinsic fulfillment, or something else: employees need the proper motivation to be creative.
2. Resources to empower creativity
Having motivation to be creative may be enough for some employees, but a strong innovative environment provides tools to help employees excel at creativity too.
Things like professional training, tools, and time dedicated to creative thinking, are all an employee needs to take that extra little idea or question they have and make it the next big innovation for the company.
For the example employee, I gave him small amounts of time, 20-25 minutes a day, to explore his goal. I also made myself available to help brainstorm and filter through his ideas as he thought necessary.
Those two resources alone led to the cross-polination workshop that was so successful that the company is planning another, larger one in the coming months.
What’s this example tell us?
Employees need not only time to do more than just their regular job, they need access to tools and resources like learning centers, cross-polination forums, and even budgets to explore ideas.
Given the motivation and resources to encourage creative thinking, employees often drive themselves to do just that: be creative and drive innovation.
This is the reason Pixar has massive communal areas to spur unplanned collaboration. It’s why places like Google and 3M give employees time set aside for creative exploration. With motivation, time, and resources, studies like the one mentioned previously have shown that employees will work hard to innovative for the company!
3. Ability to self-manage
The last vital piece of a creative work environment is the ability for employees to self-manage (to some degree).
This makes perfect sense. Employees that are micro-managed don’t have the ability to think outside the box or solve problems in new ways, because they’re too busy doing exactly what’s told of them. There’s no room or time for creative exploration.
On the other hand, employees who are given a clearly outlined strategy and goals outperform all others when it comes to not only the quantity of work, but the amount of creative work.
Allowing employees to make their own decisions and do interesting work, leads them to embrace challenges, which – paired with the motivation and resources to be creative ” leads to innovative solutions.
While I task my teams with very clear goals and strategic vision, how we get there is entirely up to them. And I’ve seen the results to be immensely rewarding (not only for myself and the team, but for the entire business).
The cross-polination workshop helped opened the eyes of some employees who may have been hindering the work process down the line. Other employees I’ve worked with have created work that’s received National attention, or put into place an improved workflow that has sped-up the department’s processes.
Knowing that they’re expected to be creative in order to achieve a goal helps employees not only tackle projects in creative ways (driving overall innovation in the company), but it also makes them happier (an article for another day).
So whether you’re a manager or employee, make sure that your work environment is one where there’s clear motivation to be creative, where everyone has access to tools and resources for being creative, where there’s a clear ability to pursue innovative solutions, and where everyone has the ability to pursue a clearly defined goal in whatever ways they can.
I’ve seen it first-hand, these three things will drastically help create an environment of creativity no matter where you work.
Primary photo via Lars Plougmann. Ladder photo via Gunnar Bothner-By. Open office photo from 37signals.