Why Creativity Matters in Business

At a recent dinner party, I overheard a young woman tell her cousin “I’m not creative.”  For me, hearing that phrase is like nails on a chalkboard.  Mind you, her cousin is a graphic designer and photographer.  This young woman, who was obviously creative as her beautifully done hair and makeup would suggest, worked in skin aesthetics.  Her job was to make people’s skin look better.  Talk about a job where creativity matters.


After a few moments, it dawned on her that creativity isn’t like a light switch. Either you have it or you don’t. She soon came to realize that she was quite creative in her own right.  Creativity is an important skill that we all have to some degree (whether we’re aware or would admit to it or not).


Creativity Matters

In the business world, a company exists to do one thing – solve problems.  How well, how large and many varieties of problems a company can solve ultimately determines the company’s long-term viability and success.  Creativity is what’s used to solve the most challenging problems.  Therefore it is essential to business success.

The hallmark of any exceptional career is the ability to devise innovative solutions for work challengesCreative thinking skills are vital for your professional advancement.“?
Brian Tracy | Creativity and Problem Solving

Let’s focus on two ways creativity is applied in business: Problem Solving & Leadership.

Creativity in Problem-Solving

Thankfully, many of the problems a company faces are standard (80-90%).  They fall comfortably within existing processes and procedures.  For the rest, non-standard (10-20%), they require creativity as the solution isn’t contained in existing FAQs or SOPs.

The closer the problem can be solved to the customer is not only more efficient, but it leads to high customer satisfaction.  This usually doesn’t mean just trying the first thing that comes to mind.

To apply creativity to problem-solving try some of these techniques:

  • Collaborate:  Like examining all sides of a Rubix Cubes, gathering insight from multiple departments allows you to gain needed perspective.
  • Reframe:  Often times what is requested isn’t the true need.  Asking the right questions allows you to unlock latent needs that allow you to truly delight.
  • Analogize:  Very seldom is any problem truly unique. Look to other industries for similar problems.  Their solutions can spark insight for your challenge.
  • Hybridize:  Endeavor to go beyond just generating lots of ideas and be willing to combine the best of the best when possible.

Creativity in Leadership

Many can wrap their heads around how important creativity is for problem-solving but have a harder time when it comes to leadership.  Leadership is a force multiplier.  It goes beyond just the leader’s ability to solve the problem.

Leadership means multiplying creativity

Leadership is the ability to harness the collective problem-solving capabilities (creativity) of a team and focus the resulting energy on the achievement of a goal.   

Simply telling your employee what to do requires no creativity.  This doesn’t allow the employee to use creativity on the problem.   Creativity helps the leader choose the right questions to ask. Thus helping their team come up with new insights on their own.

At the end of the day, a business boils down to being a series of seemingly never-ending problems.  Employees don’t make their mark by solving standard problems. Rather they make it based on how they apply their creativity to non-standard problems.  By honing your creativity you can have profound effects on your ability to solve big problems and scale your impact.  By unleashing your creative forces in this way your problems won’t stand a chance.

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It’s All About Innovation: Change Can Begin With You

recreating creativity

In the fast-paced world of business where what have you done for me lately customers truly rule the school, it really is all about innovation.    When you work in a compliance culture this realization doesn’t seem to be widely apparent.  Like me, you might feel stifled in the motivation choking clutches of the status quo.  Micro-managing managers, uninspiring work, and a fear-based compliance culture was my reality as well.

To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, give them these three factors to increase performance and satisfaction: Autonomy — Our desire to be self-directed. It increases engagement over compliance. Mastery — The urge to get better skills. Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important.” – Dan Pink | “Drive

If you’re like many employees and managers in the depths of compliance based cultures you’ve heard/said “I’m not in the C-suite so what’s the use? I can’t change anything.”  or “I have an idea, but it’s likely to just get shot down.”  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  There are many others just like you right you work.  I believe change can begin at the grassroots.  Sometimes it takes one brave soul willing to come out of the shadows and say “yes, and...why not?

Hi, I’m Wayne Burrell.  A proud husband and father of four princesses, I’m also a creative-junkie.  Addicted to innovation and constantly on the look for my next fix.  I’m a card-carrying creative (we all are).   Nothing fires me up more than expressing myself through everything I do.    I choose to see everything I do as art. There’s an art to my marriage, how I parent, how I communicate with co-workers, how I redesign processes on my 9-5, even how I fold my laundry and mow my lawn. In the words of Seth Godin, “We’re all artists.

The workplace culture is to the worker as the proper environment is to the artist.  For creativity to flourish on the job the culture has to be conducive to it. Employees must feel empowered to release their creativity and not only their compliance.  Only then will the best ideas collide with other ideas in the refining process of true collaboration.  I believe every culture can become a fertile garden of creativity where ideas can grow and innovation harvested.  

In this blog,  you’ll find out more about the core discipline that is creativity and the strategic approaches to developing it into innovation.   Together we’ll explore four key strategic drivers: how culture influences work processes which influence the customer experience and finally how customer experience then translates to bottom line finances.  We’ll also go over the #1 strategic mistake companies make in their prioritization of these strategic drivers.  I will show you how Human Centered-Design methodologies (such as Design Thinking, LEAN Startup, Agile, Design Sprints and Blue Ocean) can be used to inspire creativity and aid in transforming your culture from one of compliance to one of empowerment.

I believe wholeheartedly in Mahatma Gandhi’s wise words and I’ll paraphrase them here: “Be the change you want to see in your company.”  Your efforts alone are no match to break the inertia of the boulder that is your company culture’s status quo.  Join this community of like-minded individuals for inspiration and the encouragement you’ll need to help you on innovation journey.  Sign-up below and let’s stay in touch!