How to Turn Creativity into a Competitive Advantage

Today, new ideas and entrepreneurship are what drive our economy forward. Capitalizing from the means of production is now overshadowed by creative competitiveness—the ability of organizations to pursue new ideas, find new ways of doing things and cultivate creativity in their workforce. Cultivating a creative workforce doesn’t just involve hiring creative people, although that is an important factor. To allow creativity to become a powerful, driving force in your company, you need to update and restructure the governance and operations of your company.

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” – William Plomer

Make creativity a top priority

In most profit driven companies, efficiency is king. All processes, job titles and team structures are driven towards achieving the most efficient and profitable means of production. In a creative organization, brainstorming and idea development must be prioritized over budget, hierarchy, and process. At its core, creativity is about disruption. It’s that brilliant idea that interrupts what you’re doing and is so powerful that it distracts you from thinking about anything else. To be creative, your company will need to change the way you’ve done things because new ideas aren’t produced from “we’ve just always done it this way,” environments. Shifting your priority to creativity, doesn’t mean your company will let productivity fall behind. In fact, productivity can become much more meaningful when your employees have a steak in the creative process behind your business impact.

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.” – Albert Einstein

Foster a creative space

Space absolutely matters when trying to foster creativity. Your environment influences how you feel, think and interact with those around you. Giving your employees a space and the tools to allow them to be creative will promote idea generation and creative collaboration. With gaming areas, studios, and miniature golf courses, Google is a leading example of how their office space keeps their employees happy, productive and inventive. While your company may not have the space or means to implement Google’s approach, creating a small break out room and decorating the office with inspiring art can go a long way. When the office becomes stagnant, encouraging your team to leave work, change their environment and socialize away from the confines of their daily pressures can boost innovative thinking.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” - Maya Angelou

Hire for the creative eye

At Pixar, Steve Jobs and Ed Catmull knew that top performing creative people want to work with other top creative performers. If you know that creativity is a skill that your team is lacking, you will need to strategically recruit for creative skills. You can attract creative talent by drafting up job listing that is quirky and unlike typical corporate postings. In the interview, it’s important to ask questions to determine how curious and inquisitive a candidate is. Asking what genres they like reading or what they are passionate about will help reveal if they are single minded or curious about the world.

But hiring one or two creative minds won’t be enough. Your team will need mentoring and coaching to break out of routine ways of approaching their work. Holding a workshop with a notable leader who has demonstrated creative success will not only help your team think differently, but will attract talent who know about and appreciate the creative work of others.

Stay current with emerging trends in recruiting, careers and the tech industry

Recruiting for a creative skill set can be difficult. Unless your candidate has a portfolio of past work that clearly demonstrates innovative thinking, it’s hard for the untrained recruiter to identify a truly creative mind. Plus, it’s vital that you test for cultural fit during the hiring process, as the best creative processes are collaborative. Working with a professional recruiter will bring in the expertise and experience to hire smart and stack your team for success.