For me, it often takes just 10 minutes to understand whether an organisation is open to new creative ideas. I can smell it in the air. And I think that most of us have this skill, the ability to understand the unwritten rules of company culture.
Creativity is something that we all have inside us and it’s about our ability to do things differently and to think in new ways. If we feel that we have permission to be creative we’ll flourish, whereas if there is little room for creativity we’ll act like robots just doing what we’re told. Have you ever been in a job where you just take orders? It’s not inspiring at all; I am talking from others’ and my own experiences. Tolerance is key to better management.
How Far Have You Come In Five Years?
Looking back at digital marketing five years ago, what did you do then? What communication tools did you use? How did you measure success? And how many hours have you spent since then learning how new digital tools work?
We now have hundreds of new ways to communicate using the web and social media. What I would like to look into is how we can feel more comfortable exploring further, and what it is that makes a digital marketing team stand out and shine as creatively.
Before I go on, it is important to note that we often mix up the concept of being creative with that of being productive. Being productive has nothing to do with being creative. In my experience, lean management techniques do not boost creativity. Have you thought about the situations in which you call someone creative? Is it when they manage to do a lot of tasks in a limited timeframe, or when they come up with new digital ideas that will help the organisation to reach further?
An interesting fact about the word creativity is that it was rarely used before the Second World War. I heard this in a lecture by Gunnar Törnqvist, the author of The Geography of Creativity. Today we use the word creativity all the time. Why the change? Most likely because in the past we referred to creative people as inventors.
When I meet digital marketers they are typically experiencing a number of similar problems. They have no time to think about what they are doing, no time for reflection, they are restricted by very limited budgets and many find that the approval process takes far too long.
Just feeling that you don’t have enough time will stop many people from thinking that they can do things differently. For example, a friend of mine has endless meetings every day and thus no free flow of ideas going through his head, only thoughts on how to manage the next meeting. We can all make better use of our time. You can develop and take control of whatever technique works for you.
I recently spoke to creativity champion Derek Cheshire who said the following: ‘Stop going to endless meetings; that can be the change you need to let yourself explore your creative side. Also, stop pleasing your boss and take control of what you think is relevant and important.’
What A Building Tells You
As a professional speaker I travel a lot and visit both new hotels and new businesses all the time. One of the things that you pick up on when you enter a building is the art and symbols on display. Last week I visited a government agency that is trying its best to be creative. The office looks great and wouldn’t look out of place in an interior design magazine. But something was missing. There were no symbols that I could connect with the people working there.
The opposite is Twitter’s London office. When you enter reception you see two big art pieces that are made up of the tweets of the people working there. It looks great and it’s a clear symbol that the people working there matter. It gives them freedom and the right to express themselves.
Art and symbols give us a sense of belonging and identity and if they are effective they support the way we work together.
In my discussion with Derek Cheshire he also said: ‘Visualize walking into a nursery for children; the children’s art is all over the walls. It makes the place feel alive and makes all of the children visible. Imagine if you could do the same in a workplace.’
Does Security Breed Creativity
As a little investigative exercise I often compare and look at organisations’ descriptions of themselves online. It seems to me that the organisations that are proud of their work and elaborate on their history are more creative and better at using digital tools in a smart way. Can it be that the surer we are about our own identity the more we dare to be creative? When we are insecure about where we fit in, do we hold back and not explore further?
To develop new ideas we need to cross-pollinate our ideas with those of others. So, if you stop going to endless meetings and instead sit down in a nice chair (or beanbag if you prefer) in an open space with a coffee you’re more likely to be able to imagine how you can best take advantage of the opportunities the digital world offers you.
Mind The Gap
Without time and sufficient digital investment we risk creating a bigger gap between the digital A and B teams. By that I mean that if we are not taking control of our time we might stay in the B team, or move from the creative A team to the robotic B team. A big part of being creative is knowing what’s possible, and that means that knowledge must be shared on a regular basis.
A company’s culture speaks loudly and has a distinct smell. We can quickly feel what’s allowed and what isn’t. If you aren’t allowed to elaborate on an idea with your boss or colleagues because of a lack of tolerance, then you’re less likely to seek to do this.
To create a more creative work environment you need to know what you’re doing with your time; a small change can work wonders. Train yourself to be more tolerant. Look deeper into the meaning of symbols and art in your organisation. Are they truly supporting the way you do things or are they out-of-sync with reality?
See what the Twitterverse is saying about Company Culture: