Guideline to foster Creativity & Innovation within organizations
…without compromising good professional ethics
Today, different organizations face diverse challenges that significantly impact the success of their operations. Among these challenges are flexibility and response to customers and the market, improvement in process costs, resource management, organization in labor and employee relations, etc.
To face all these challenges, one of the possible solutions that organizations point out as more relevant is the development of an adequate creativity in their staff, either to develop a good company culture or simply to improve the existing processes.
This great emphasis on the development of a good culture of creativity and innovation has been more relevant during the last years, giving rise to numerous publications that try to offer different approaches on this subject. With the help of all these resources, we try to face a big dilemma: How can I promote an adequate culture of creativity and innovation in my organization?
The danger of creativity
There are many possible recommendations when aiming at possible methods or procedures to encourage creativity and innovation of the staff. However, when deploying these initiatives it is necessary to consider the risks that this implies for the functionality of the organization.
In the same way that for the development of any product it is necessary to carry out an analysis of the benefits and risks associated with the development of the product, before tackling the implementation of a culture of creativity and innovation it is necessary to carry out an analysis of the procedures to assume it.
Four main categories, four problematics
The following illustration is a summary with four possible areas on which it is necessary to act when deploying a business culture of creativity and innovation, as well as the associated alerts.
Break the rules
Look at your organization, it is quite likely that it is full of different rules, standard procedures and processes that provide a consistent and controlled environment over decision and behavior systems.
In general, employees lose motivation to generate new ideas at the same rate that they face this serious restriction when communicating them, until they become passive victims of the rules.
Breaking this tendency is necessary to favor a creative environment, in which employees are encouraged to break and create new rules with which they feel more comfortable.
This has clear risks, as it can lead to possible jumps in regulations and procedures that create new unforeseeable problems for the organization. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a good code of conduct to moderate this type of behavior from a practical and ethical point of view.
Challenge the facto standard of the industry
Challenging competent authority and avoiding the industry’s most entrenched traditions is another factor that can help foster a creative culture.
It is common to find company cultures in different areas of the industry that establish a general line of shared values, norms and beliefs. At the same time, most organizations have strong hierarchical structures and full confidence in the way they act and communicate.
Traditionally, it is recommended to encourage employees to challenge these imposed structures and avoid the classic way of solving issues. At the same time, it is advisable to avoid looking back at past achievements.
Of course, the counterpart of instilling this type of behavior is to challenge the existing structure that compromises the proper functioning of the organization. At the same time, it is necessary to correctly balance the responses to employees who display this type of attitude in a way that rewards ethically correct behavior and rejects dangerous behavior.
Create conflict and competition
In general, many times employees adjust to the group and the company to create a good working environment and maintain an acceptable line of fellowship in the different relationships within the company, which perpetuates the status quo of the company. These behaviors are responsible for providing consistency and cohesion within work environments.
However, in order to develop creativity and innovation within the different teams of the company, this is not a positive aspect, since it eliminates individual thinking in pursuit of a group benefit. Against this, it is recommended to develop procedures that encourage competition among employees, conflict and debate of ideas in the search for new ideas and approaches, avoiding the leverage of employees.
Of course, this entails a series of ethical risks such as the extent to which managers must interfere with the proper functioning of employees, and how employees are mentally affected by this type of competitive environment.
Take risks and embrace failure
Most organizations are risk averse, in fact, they do not tolerate failure, either because of demands from their clients, or because of commitments to their investors.
Each one of us has an ideosyncrasy that makes us more or less prone to take risks, and this propensity is what brings about an opportunity for growth and discovery of new ideas. Creativity implies experimentation, and this can only be developed when there is a culture tolerant of failure and risk taking. It is not advisable to follow a myopic vision of reality in which only economically viable products are developed in the short term, since this limits innovation in the field.
Thus, to encourage innovation in the team it is necessary to implement a culture open to experimentation and failure, accepting all associated risks. This has a dark side, in turn, and is to encourage attitudes and processes unacceptable from an ethical or financial point of view, compromising the long-term viability of the company.
It has been seen that in order to promote creativity and innovation within a company it is necessary to face a series of risks that can dynamite the functionality and the very being of the company. Therefore, the need to carefully analyze the steps to be taken to implement this type of procedure, without losing sight of the risks associated with each one of them, is made explicit.
For all points, it is fundamental to establish a good communication channel between employees and managers, so that all methods are acceptable and mutually agreed upon. This is the only way to develop a creative and healthy culture for the good future of the company.
Baucus, M., Norton, W., Baucus, D., & Human, S. (2008). Fostering Creativity and Innovation without Encouraging Unethical Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics,81(1), 97-115. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25482200
Dewett, T. (2004), “Employee creativity and the role of risk”, European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 257-266. https://doi.org/10.1108/14601060410565010
Alves, J., Marques, M. J., Saur, I., & Marques, P. (2007). Creativity and Innovation through Multidisciplinary and Multisectoral Cooperation. Creativity and Innovation Management, 16(1), 27-34. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8691.2007.00417.x