Building a culture of creativity

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Organisations are constantly seeking a competitive advantage. The source of this advantage resides in the development of a creative culture, which underlies innovation and growth.

There is no single answer or a panacea to creating a culture of creativity. Instead, it arises from the interaction of three interwoven levels:

Individuals
This level rests on building confidence in the capacity to create. We are all creative and have our own unique creative style but not all of us know it and very few of us know what our style is.

At MBS we help individuals understand their style and how to use their capacities to the fullest. Confidence grows when people know what their style is, how to leverage their strengths and how to work with their development needs. With greater creative confidence comes greater capacity to develop ideas, solve problems and exploit opportunities.

Teams
It is important to develop shared language and concepts, ground rules that encourage creativity and to equip teams with tools, techniques and processes that deliver new and better ideas.

Shared concepts, such as making time for preparation before meetings and leaving evaluation until the end of problem-solving, ensure that team members understand one another and appreciate what works.

Tools, techniques and processes are like training wheels on a child’s bike. You should use them, get them to ride straight and true – move forward without them.

Organisations
If organisations want to ensure that the culture is creative, then they need to ensure that ‘the way we do things round here’ stems from confident and competent individuals, as well as energetic and efficient teams.

Too often there is a tendency to adopt a top-down approach to a creative culture – a belief that if the mission, vision and values ‘talk the talk’ then the rest will follow. It doesn’t and it won’t. Top down approaches need to be met halfway with bottom-up skills development of individuals and teams.

So what about leadership?
The role of the leader in creating a culture of creativity is in orchestrating the three levels. Leaders recruit, assess, develop, set goals and allocate roles for individuals. They build and grow teams and set the team environment. Leaders contribute to the culture and climate of the organisation.

Which begs the questions:
• Do individuals in your organisation know that they are creative, what their style is and how to use it?
• Do teams know how to set the right conditions for working creatively and have the training in proven tools and techniques?
• Is your organisation characterised by a can-do creative culture? If not, where is your competitive advantage going to come from?

Find out more about working with Manchester Business School on creative leadership in your organisation >>

This article is taken from Manchester Business School’s recent Vital Topics, Sir Terry Leahy event publication. Download The Vital Topics publication in full >>

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About Author

Mark Batey

Mark is Chair of the Psychometrics at Work Research Group at Alliance Manchester Business School. As Associate Editor of the International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving, he is one of the most published researchers in creativity. Mark is regularly called upon by the media to discuss creativity, innovation, leadership and executive education.

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