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By Karen Post, The Branding Diva®

Several studies were conducted within large organizations to discover the major difference between highly creative teams and non-creative teams. The findings were eye-opening. The major difference in the two groups was not training, education, or even gene pools; it was confidence. The folks that were pumping out the big ideas believed they were creative.

Does your organization aid in this creating a culture of “we are creative, hear us roar!”?
Or does the environment and leadership unconsciously suppress the creative spirit?

Let’s find out.
5 questions to assess your creative culture.

1) Is creativity part of your organization’s core values?

2) Do you easily invite ideas from all departments? Not just the marketing group?

3) Do you recognize and reward creative thinking, even if it does not evolve into a formal practice or product?

4) Does your total environment stimulate creative idea generation?

5) Do you have regularly scheduled creative events that present ideas and tools to empower creative thinking?

If you answered no, to any of these, you’ve got work to do. Here are five simple actions you can take to amp up your creative culture and output.

1) Include creativity/innovation in your core values.
Creativity and innovation are important threads in the fabric of successful organizations. Make sure to address how your organization values and supports creative thinking and application. This includes language in your organization communications, training manuals, events, and most of all by walking the talk through initiatives and leadership actions.

2) As a regular practice, invite idea contribution from everyone.
Creativity and innovation can come from the strangest places, including employees involved in not-so-creative daily jobs. This does not mean a suggestion box that you never look at; it means regular communication, easy methods to submit, and recognition for trying, whether it’s a winner or not.

3) Recognize and reward contributions.
Small tokens of appreciation and acknowledgment go a long way. Whether it’s featuring an idea in a company publication or on your Intranet, humans like to feel valued. Plus, posting the seed of an idea can lead to another one. Consider movie passes, special parking privileges, scratch-off lottery tickets, or even branded company wear.

4) Make your environment, inspirational and enjoyable.
Imagination, ideas, and creativity blossom when they are fed the right stuff in the right place. This starts with a setting of inspirational and enjoyable environments. If your office is bunch of cubicles and drab surroundings, this area needs attention. Consider paint colors that positively impact mood, art or murals that encourage reflection and ingenuity, and furniture that promotes open mind, flow; not uptight structure. Changeable white boards for idea building and sharing are a powerful tool; add some play to your company with games. Music is a tremendous stimulator too; make headphones available or pipe in tunes in key office spaces. If you are a small company, start with one room that is the idea place for incorporating a sense of fun and creative spirit.

5) Bring in other creative thinkers to your organization and host creative events.
Outside minds can be a great reality check to the world and different markets. Consider hosting creative workshops, guest lecture series, and creative contests and events. This can be taking the department to the circus, moving a planning session to comedy club and kicking it off with a comedy show, to showing creative films in your lunchroom.

If you want to nurture big ideas and creative thinking in your organization, you’ve got to contribute to the confidence building of your team, provide the tools, and an empowering environment.

If you always think the way you’ve always thought, you will always get what you’ve always gotten—the same old ideas. Why not try some these on your team and space today.

Here are a few resources that can enhance your creative space and thinking.

Creative work environments, do you work in one?
Check out these courtesy of The Cool Hunter.

Removable wall art resources
whatisbilk

An environmental design and innovation motivator company
creative-va

More than 100 years in business, Creative has combined the knowledge, experience, and business insight to transform office spaces into a center of workplace motivation. They understand that in the “flattened” world the only competitive advantages are innovation, imagination, and the ability to execute.

Some of my favorite audio and books for creative mind work
Michael Gelb’s books and audio programs can help you discover and express your creative gifts. His first book, “Body Learning,” began life as a Master’s thesis and was first published in 1981. His most recent book is, “Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America’s Greatest Inventor”. I’ve gained a lot from several of his published work. They are worth checking out.

Great diversion reading.
Take a break from your industry and try on some trivia. This is a very fun and quirky pub.
Mental_Floss

About the Author
Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She is has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos, Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com, an idea engine for creative professionals and business. Her work has benefited large and small organizations in the United States and around the world.