The Business Administrator’s Guide to Workplace Creativity

The Business Administrator’s Guide to Workplace Creativity

The traditional office life—what many of us see as the 9-to-5 grind, endlessly dreaming about Fridays and weekends—doesn’t always leave a lot of space for creativity. After all, you generally have a set number of things you need to get done each day, and you’d rather not try something new when it comes to completing them, right?

But here’s the thing—creativity in the workplace is supremely important. If you can apply creative thinking to your everyday work life, you’ll find that not only will the day stop feeling like a work day, but you’ll be unlocking more creative ideas and solutions in your work and methodology. And this doesn’t just go for employees, but for business administrators as well. In fact, business administrators have the ability to be the conductors of creativity in their staff.

According to an article in a recent issue of The Economist, this search for innovation has executives frequently flying across the country to visit some of the world’s most highly-touted startups. They recognize that ping pong tables and unlimited food and drinks, though effective at infusing fun, do not—and cannot—single-handedly effuse creativity, so they’re looking to emerging businesses for answers, as these businesses seem to be succeeding where these executives’ businesses are failing. Donna Flynn, Vice President of Steelcase WorkSpace Futures, says that the answer to this particular problem has to come from the top. More than beanbags and video games, Flynn says that leadership holds the key to how teams pursue creativity and invention. Creative problem solving comes into play when trying to fix an issue that has many possible resolutions. While a lot of problems in the workplace have one or two clear solutions, creative people have the ability to look at all sides of the issues, and many times can come up with solutions that might be completely new and interesting, and it is up to leadership to encourage this behavior in their employees and foster its growth so that it is not just one or two people with this ability, but whole departments and companies.

Entrepreneurs have long embraced this fluid approach to innovation, and founders have disrupted conventions from the moment their ideas married themselves to a lease and a payroll. Without the constraints of HR or the boundaries of corporate policies, these agile thinkers push ideas beyond traditional boundaries. What can we learn from them, and how can we scale those practices to fit large organizations?

Advantages Of Creativity In The Workplace

For starters, if you’re a recent business administration graduate in a managerial role and you can’t shake the feeling that your staff is uninspired and relying on the same old concepts and solutions, then it’s time to start fostering creativity and innovation. Those who have the tendency to feel stagnant and bored in their work will benefit deeply from learning how to think creatively.

Creativity in business and its importance in business administration points to four main creative strengths that can be taught:

Fluency

Coming up with more than one idea along the same topic or theme. Simple exercises where employees are encouraged to come up with multiple uses for a single ordinary object are a great way to encourage this skill.

Flexibility

The same as above, but with creating multiple ideas across topics and themes that may or may not be similar. This can help employees link together possible ideas.

Elaboration

Being able to add more details, viewpoints, and diverse group perspectives to existing information. See if your employees can describe an experience using all of their senses.

Originality

Coming up with big ideas that are unique and out of the ordinary. Try holding semi-regular brainstorms with your team members and staff and encourage them to put down all of their ideas, not just the ones that they’re already certain will work.

A recent Forbes article explains this idea very simply; “True business and marketing leaders embrace uncertainty and complexity as creative catalysts that invite and, in fact, demand innovation. Creative leaders should view constraints at every level as exciting challenges that release–not restrict–creative responses. Additionally, creative leadership recognizes the risk in trying new things and doesn’t fear failure.”

This is strong advice.

Ultimately, once you learn to embrace the fear of failure and the joy of stepping out of your tried-and-true methods, you’ll find that a whole avenue of creative ideas and solutions will become open to you and that your business will thrive, in part, because of it.