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Everyone’s Creative. CEOs to CPAs. Unlock Your Innovative Spirit (AND Your Team’s)

Ideas can come from anyone. Case in point: White Out was invented by a typist. It’s not limited to design or artistic roles. Your creative department or agency aren’t the only ones who can be inventive. 

Your team’s best thinking comes from ideation by generating and recognizing new ideas, alternatives, and possibilities. It’s how we communicate with others best and even have (gasp) fun and be entertained. In the future of work and teams, creativity will only become more important. Think about it. What high impact teams can you think of who don’t ground themselves in creative collaboration? So, how do you keep creativity rocking on your team? We’ve got some ideas.

Everyday work: now, more creative.

So, how do you use creativity in the things you’re already doing? Think about the jobs you’re hiring for, the goals on your team, and how you collaborate. Could they be more creative? 

Let’s start with something basic like writing a job description. Why is it so hard to write a compelling job description that attracts the candidates you truly want? One reason could be that the context for your team and goals are always a work in progress. Consider co-creating JDs WITH potential candidates (vs. solo creation by a hiring manager). There’s solid research on the upside of crafting jobs with the people who are interested in the role or even new to the role. They bring experiences, interests and a fresh perspective which allows for evolution and improvement over time – win/win!

Timing matters. 

Another scientific insight to boost creativity on your team is knowing when your team does its best creative work. Jonathan Levav and Shai Danziger studied extraneous factors in judicial decisions and they found that the highest predictor of parole is when the judge last ate something. The main idea? Our bodies influence our openness to new ideas. How our bodies feel can shift the way we think, especially our openness to new ideas and our perception of change and risk. So, when is your team planning to do its highest, most creative thinking and collaboration? We need to know about decision fatigue in order to design around it.

Embrace constraints.

We know a lot of the individual actions we should take, but what are the actions we can take on as a team? It may feel counterintuitive, but it’s actually beneficial to embrace constraints.

Dr. Leslie Perlow of Harvard business school has longitudinal research on the benefits of working with team constraints. If you have ever wondered why flex work didn’t work for decades before the pandemic, it’s because individual flexibility would violate that ideal worker norm–the person who’s that all-in type of worker. But Dr. Perlow has been writing experiments for decades and shows that when you have constraints, like predictable time off, burnout and turnover go down and creativity and impact go up. 

How to bake it into your team.

There are several ways to create an environment that’s hospitable to creative collaboration. Here are a few.

  • Tap into diverse viewpoints (cast a wide net of people to include).
  • Defer judgment (aka all ideas are good ideas and can be sorted out later).
  • Brainstorm (an oldie but a goodie). It leads to divergent thinking.
  • Inspirational (some say magical) thinking that focuses on optimal and even outrageous solutions.
  • Examine ideas.
  • Design practical solutions.
  • Create a psychologically safe place for people to share ideas.
  • Reframe problems as questions.
  • Use yes, and… Ban the word no.
  • Build on ideas.

Real-world creativity at work.

With the latest market challenges, here’s one idea we’ve seen that makes organizations more resilient. Consider combining multiple disciplines under a single leadership role. As an example, we see scaling organizations combine CMO and CPO roles. These two roles support external and internal customers. What better way for your employees to live the company brand?

How can Forshay help? 

With consultants who can work across a wide range of functional areas and companies from scrappy startups to highly matrixed organizations. They are the true subject matter experts who can tap into their knowledge and leadership skills and provide leverage in areas where you might not even know you need help. 

For example, Lisa Romano was hired as an interim CMO and over time took over COO responsibilities with a scaling client. We sat down with Lisa to find out more… 

“When I started, my focus as the interim CMO was to drive the marketing efforts. As in any consulting engagement, I quickly built trust with the founders. I had depth in scaling startups, so I slowly began to share insights to the rest of the business functions. By aligning my strengths and knowledge with their needs, the organization was able to leverage my operational experience, and avoid having to hire another resource as they scaled. This client appreciated my willingness to lean in and take work off their plate.”