Team Management

Four Ways to Help Your Team Be More Creative

Marketing teams need creativity more than ever. Here’s how to foster it across the organization.

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Innovation and creativity remain important values in today’s technology- and data-driven world. Yet within marketing departments—as well as within the larger organizational contexts—attitudes toward creativity are changing. Creativity is no longer the domain of a single employee or department. Instead, it’s an approach to problem solving and delivering results that can be cultivated at every level of your business. If you are a business leader who wants to help your team be more creative, here are four ways to start fostering creativity now.

Embrace a wider definition of creativity: How do you define and recognize creativity within your organization? This is often a question leaders may not have considered. While it may be obvious that certain roles—such as agency directors, copywriters, or graphic designers—have an important creative component to their job, creativity can be at work in all levels of your organization. One of my favorite examples cited by a client was ingenious steps taken by the company’s receptionist to improve customer experience upon arrival at the company’s headquarters. After observing that customers were often confused or frustrated that they were left waiting, she redesigned the reception area to be more conducive to quickly sending customers to their destination. At the same time, she worked with engineering and prototype to fill the waiting area with some interesting previews of forthcoming products to keep potential customers engaged. This kind of creativity made a significant difference and is a great example of fostering creativity in every role.

Showcase examples: In the book The Creative Curve, the author makes an important point: Seeing examples of creativity and innovation in action can help your employees imagine what is possible. If you are asking your team to develop their creative skills or foster innovation, consider creating a context for them to explore examples. This could include lunch-and-learns that dive into specific case studies, sending teams to attend industry conferences to see what other companies are doing, or even fostering exchanges between departments. Access to new examples will spark thinking outside the box.

Teach creativity and offer incentives: While some argue that creativity cannot be taught, many experts in the area disagree. There are many ways to stimulate creativity, from investing in your environment to following specific processes. Explore whether your team would benefit from a course in different ways to think about creativity or even simply exposure to content on the topic. Another way to provide ongoing support is to incentivize creativity. Consider offering awards—or even making creativity and innovation one component or dimension upon which performance is measured.

Focus on a culture that encourages creativity: Consider the role of company culture in fostering creativity. Do you welcome input and ideas from around the organization? Are people willing to share their inspiration and take risks? Your company’s culture can help model creativity. Get your executives to share their ideas. Take steps to be open and welcoming when people make a creative contribution. Finally, if you identify roadblocks to creativity within the organization, take proactive steps to eliminate them.

Creativity can benefit your organization at every level, from the ideas and campaigns you develop to how execution is handled. Cultivating creativity can help your existing team break out of the mold and get more done than ever before.