Katarzyna Zachariasz-Podolak: Companies boast that they create spaces to boost employees’ creativity; nice designer open spaces with colourful pillows, foosballs, darts etc.
Priszcilla Várnagy, CEO at Be-novative: And they think they are creative.
Not at all. It might look good on the surface, but on a deeper level, furniture and nice designed space won’t make a company creative. To be creative a firm should give people real opportunities to come up together with something meaningful.
It could be anything. How to renew services or how to make processes a bit more efficient. How to improve weekly meetings. How to reduce waste. What kind of team building events to organise. What should be in the office that makes employees feel better. Any topic that involves suggestions from people who are actually performing tasks is considered to be ok. This is the start of becoming a creative company.
Let’s say I’m a company owner and I want my employees to invent new ideas. How should I do it?
Is your company large or small?
Is there a difference?
Yes, there are many differences. The most important one is what will motivate employees to be creative. In large enterprises people need to be encouraged. Company should allow them not just to follow leaders’ tasks, but also to come up with new ideas and implement their suggestions. It’s a bottom-up approach.
Can I motivate them with money?
There are much more better ways. We found out that the most motivating factor for employees is possibility to work on their own ideas. The company can organise workshops or innovations days or hackathons where people form small teams and work together on their projects. The winner, is the one which comes up with the best prototype or the best solution, can get resources and time to implement it.
Another thing is reward for the people who come up with really potentially good ideas.
Not really, rather professional rewards. It could be for example a conference or course abroad or meeting with top level management. It might sound surprising but dinner with someone high level usually motivates people a lot and encourages them to come up with ideas, gamification is also useful.
What is important in large enterprises is to have some encouragement and regular opportunities for people.
Is this regularity important?
Yes, it is. As they say “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. I like this saying very much, it means you might have a good plan as top level management, but if company culture and regular habits are different, then they will overrule whatever plan you came up with.
That is why it shouldn’t be one event per year. It has to be regular occurrence, so people can get used to the fact, that it is ok to suggest new ideas.
What about smaller enterprises?
Small companies are different. In my opinion and in our experience in small companies a lot depends on the CEO and top management team . If the CEO is open to suggestions and tells people it’s important for the company to move forward, to promote innovations, to improve services, people will be encouraged to be creative in their jobs. However if these things are not important for CEO , if she stresses we just do regular things, have our old processes and regulations, it’d be very difficult for employees to suggest new proposals.
How to do an efficient meeting?
In “Be-novative” we have our system. First of all employees who join our platform are to form into small groups of four. Thinking in small groups is more efficient, because people don’t feel shy to speak up with their own ideas, especially when ideas are very different. In large groups, like 20, 50 people, you will only speak up if you are brave, outgoing or you are very confident in your idea. It’s not the point of creativity. The point of creativity is when you have a spark, you just say it out aloud and you don’t have to evaluate whether it’s good or not. Later on you will see if it inspires others, you can make it better or not. Also it’s important to eliminate the judgemental part. The whole process is anonymous. Although you know who are your team members, you don’t know which idea comes from whom, at the very end there is a leader board. The system knows which idea is from whom and the people who share the ideas with most impact and which are more feasible, are shown at the top of the leader board.
Why it is anonymous?
Because this way we make it risk free. Usually there is a bias in judgement depending who says what. If at the meeting the CEO says his idea, most of the people will say it’s a very good idea, I wanted to recommend it.
However if it is an intern who says something brave or different , people will say: you are new, you don’t have experience, you don’t know anything about it. Anonymity helps to eliminate this bias. If you have a very brave idea, you can type it in, nobody will point a finger at you saying, how could you put forward such a stupid idea.
But some ideas are better and some are worse. You have to evaluate them somehow.
Regular type of evaluation is that people give suggestions and they agree with an idea or don’t agree. In terms of creative ideas it should be more dimensional. We encourage people to think in terms of impact and feasibility.
Think first if the idea would have an impactful meaning, will it solve a problem or will it make the company successful? Then think about its feasibility. Do you have to dedicate two years to develop it or will one week be enough? When you compare these two aspects and you believe the ideas will be impactful and feasible, then the company should implement it.
Why should we do it? Why companies should try to be creative?
Because it’s a changing world, all circumstances are changing very fast. If companies are resistant to this, they will die. That is why they need to come up with more and more value for clients. If they maintain the current level, clients will go to those brands which provide better services or cheaper products.
Be-novative is the Collective Creativity cloud platform to maximizes organizational creativity and boosts results-focused employee engagement. It is used by such companies and organisations as: OECD, Microsoft, Cisco, GE, Deloitte, PwC, AON Hewitt, ING Bank and others. Now your company can try it for free. Be-novative launches 14-day free trial for any large or small company to create a team account risk free. More details at Be-novative website