By Jennifer Fischer.
When you work in a creative agency, the biggest challenge—the one you must always deliver on—is to continuously come up with and implement new ideas that will get everyone talking, challenge the category conventions and give the business an edge.
Whatever industry you are in, being innovative is essential to thrive in today’s world. To succeed at this, a business must build an environment where great ideas can bloom and grow. Here are some key principles inspired by the creative industry, which can be applied to any organization.
Don’t just hire the best, hire the hungriest
Recruiting the best talent in the industry is a good start; but it is not enough to stay on top. A business becomes stale when people do not challenge themselves and remain in their comfort zone.
Juniors must be hungry to learn the craft and techniques and infuse fresh thinking in the organisation, while seniors must coach and teach what they know, but also thrive on challenging themselves with new areas of growth and learning. That is how magic happens.
Groom leaders to be trail blazers, not bus drivers
An innovative culture is contingent on everyone being a part of it. Everyone—from the HR team to the interns—must want to challenge the status quo and constantly push for new ideas. To make this happen, take a look at your managers. They are a proxy for your culture and what they believe in impacts everyone else. If their mindset is limited to herding everyone on a safe path and ensuring the basics are delivered, they will restrict an innovative culture from blooming. Instead, get managers who welcome experimenting and paving new roads. Theirs is the example the rest of your people will follow.
Make the rules, then break them
Common management wisdom tells us that a good process is important. After all, it ensures consistent, repeatable results. But if this is all you are doing, you are missing out on a big opportunity. Process is the biggest lever at your disposal when driving change, and often the easiest to experiment with. In the world of ideas—just like in manufacturing—changing the steps in the process, the input and the people involved has dramatic effects on the outcome. Adding an extra step or involving someone new can bring out new conversations, shape ideas differently and unlock new opportunities for innovation.
Be tough on ideas but kind to people
No idea comes out from someone’s mind fully formed and ready to conquer the world. Ideas need shaping. This happens through productive debates and honest conversations that allow ideas to transform into their most powerful form. This is not comfortable and it requires a safe space. A space without politics or egos. A space where people can be open and vocal about their thoughts.
There is a sense of risk involved, especially for high stake ideas or those meetings where senior staff are present. Empathy, respect, vulnerability and humor are all key to creating this safe space so that everyone feels like they can take part in this all-important ritual.
Turn collaboration into a strategic advantage
The more innovative your ideas, the more you will need access to new technologies, novel techniques, and expert crafts that you might not have within your team or even within your business. Reaching out to other departments, learning from other offices, creating a network of freelance experts, and connecting with a wide diversity of outside partners is how you can accelerate access to knowledge and power up new skills, opening new pathways for more innovative ideas to come.