Look, your company will not be more innovative when you only paint the office walls and install a foosball table for your workers.
We can help you create an innovative office? Want to cultivate creativity? Try http://management30.com/events
I was once working for a company that moved into a new office. The building looked great and it was all well-designed and nicely decorated. However, the CEO had one important rule for all workers: he insisted on compliance with his clean desk policy.
What the F?
We all received a white box. At the end of each workday, we were expected to put all of our stuff inside the box, leave our desk empty, and put the box in a closet. At the start of the next day, we could take the box out of the closet, pick a desk, get our stuff out of the box, and start working. Oh, and he invited all workers to make the company more creative and innovative! Yay.
That makes no sense at all.
Needless to say, this company was not know for its innovative products and services. What would you do instead?
In the 21st century, we see the rise of the creative economy. Knowledge workers are replaced by creative workers. And the most innovative companies in the world all have similar approaches to creativity. The job of the manager is to create a fertile environment and to embrace the ideas that emerge from creative workers.
Here are the 7 Rules for Creativity Managers:
Nurture diversity: Creativity managers dislike brains being the same.
Diversity is more than race or gender. Introverts versus extroverts. Rational versus emotional. Star Trek versus Star Wars. Use personal assessment tools, cross-functional teams, anything you can do to have people with different brains working together. Diversity sits between the ears, not on the skin or between the legs.
Diversity? Our people were remarkably similar.
Create markets: Creativity managers favor coopetition in networks.
In healthy companies, there is competition and collaboration. Smart managers implement an ecosystem within the business. That means, get rid of rigid hierarchies and pompous job titles. People won't really collaborate when one person has a higher status than the other.
Job titles. Check. Hierarchy. Check. Status. Oh, check!!
Rely on merits: Creativity managers embrace networks and gameplay.
Stop evaluating ideas by committee. People generate more ideas when they are evaluated by their peers. Create a stock market of ideas, where creative workers can invest in the ideas that make the most sense to them. Crowdfunded innovation in your company, that makes sense!
No, we didn't do that.
Make no predictions: Creativity managers keep many options open.
You don't know which idea is going to be the best. Therefore, plan for an unknown future. Take multiple chances and allow for multiple scenarios. Design different versions of products, delay decisions about which one is the winner, and create a business strategy of more than one path.
Multiple scenarios? Nah.
Update the workplace: Creativity managers work the environment.
Let creative workers customize and decorate their workplace. Make sure there is variety in the office so that people can choose where to work. Allow people to change and adapt the office according to what they need. And allow them to escape from the office when they think it's best.
Ehm, no we couldn't do that.
Change constraints: Creativity managers optimize for exploration.
Some rules, like clean-desk policies, are stupid. Most people are more creative in slightly messy environments. Replace those rules with ones that make sense. For example, participate in an exploration day once every two months. Use rules and constraints to reinforce experimentation, not compliance.
Not for us.
Open boundaries: Creativity managers connect instead of protect.
Too many companies rely on secrets. But, you can achieve much more with sharing and transparency. Organize cross-company conferences; join open innovation platforms; invite people from outside to your company's internal workshops. Open your borders to the world outside.