Creativity (and the resulting innovation) is a key ingredient in many businesses. And while you probably understand what creativity is, you might not know how to make it happen (other than with a magic wand). Based on Jonah Lehrer’s IMAGINE, here are a couple ideas for fostering creativity within your company:
Develop a flexible attention policy: At 3M instead of insisting upon constant concentration, employees are encouraged to make time for activities that at first glance might seem unproductive. For example taking a walk, napping in the sun, or playing a game of pong. Beyond that, researchers are also encouraged to spend 15 percent of their work day pursuing speculative new ideas (bet you thought Google invented that idea– nope!).
Insist upon sharing across departments: It’s easy to let employees get trapped into their silos, but horizontal interactions (people sharing knowledge across fields) encourages conceptual blending, which is an extremely important part of the insight process. 3M insists on sharing among scientists which eventually led to a Tech Form (an event sort of like a middle-school science fair where each scientist introduces their findings and experiments). Keep in mind that the act of invention is in many cases a compounding and transposing. For example Larry Page and Sergey Brian developed the search algorithm behind Google by applying the ranking method used for academic articles to the sprawl of the World Wide Web.
Encourage persistence: Don’t let employees give up too easily. Even Bethoven the cliche of artistic genius needed to constantly refine his ideas, to struggle with his music until beauty shone through. The ability to stick with it (grit) is one of the most important predictors of success. While the right idea may not arrive on your doorstep on your first try, keep at it.
Locate (or move) your office within a city: Cities are crowded spaces for us to interact. As a result they lead us to explore ideas we wouldn’t explore on our own, and converse with strangers we’d otherwise ignore. Interestingly the per capita creativity of cities rapidly increases with size, but companies exhibit the opposite trend.
Now you’re fully armed to create creativity! Anything else you’d add?