Why is big business so averse to creativity?
All businesses start out creative.
They have to think creatively because they don’t have the resources of a large company.
They’re prepared to take risks.
They think unconventionally.
They break the rules.
However, as they grow a number of things happen.
Firstly, internal communication becomes more difficult. As a result, ideas aren’t protected as well as they need to be in their early, fragile state. Important things get lost in translation.
Secondly, people become more risk averse. They become concerned about their own reputations if they try something new that doesn’t work. Rory Sutherland asserts there is a simple reason for this: you can never be fired for being logical.
As he says, “If your reasoning is sound and unimaginative, even if your fail, it is unlikely you will attract much blame. It is much easier to be fired for being illogical than it is for being unimaginative.”
Finally, the company becomes beholden to the shareholders and resists doing anything to upset the status quo. They become wary of spending money on highly speculative ventures.
The end result is that most companies aren’t creative.
This is because coming up with novel ideas involves a degree of risk taking: we have to accept that not everything we try will succeed.
And yet, in a complex and changeable world, creativity is essential to survive. It is a skill that is only going to grow in importance as more of our daily tasks become automated.
With this in mind, here are 5 ways a large company can stay creative:
1. Create accountability first - A company needs to design metrics to incentivise employees to take risks.
2. Set aside some budget for experimentation - Get comfortable with trying out things on a small scale.
3. Make an effort to build teams with broad skill sets - Be conscious of how diversity leads to better ideas.
4. Create a culture that values failure - Don’t punish people for making mistakes. Instead, place a value on the lessons learnt.
5. Ensure top-down compliance - If the people at the top aren’t seen to be valuing creativity then it’ll be hard for those at the bottom to believe in it.
Are there any more you can think of? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Creativity is a vital skill for any company. The ability to solve problems and spot new opportunities is what separates those that survive and prosper from those that fail.
If you’re interested in how creativity can transform your business then pre-register for our upcoming course ‘Creativity for Business’ for more info.