Creating A Company Culture Where Ideas Are Encouraged

Building A Company Culture That Supports Innovation And Creativity

The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. — Sir Ken Robinson

I came across this powerful quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks.

It brought me back to a time-honoured session that I would always roll my eyes at — the brainstorming sessions that no one wanted to be a part of. It’s when everyone is sitting around the table with their minds running at warp speed trying to come up with a great “idea.”

Are You Ignoring Ideas?

Yet, this leader knew that this was the way that we are going to innovate. But, he ignored the vast majority of ideas because they did not come from his most favoured people in the room.

There was a commercial years ago that played out this scenario.

You had a room full of people all looking bored. There was one “slacker” in the group that came up with an idea. However, it was as if he was not even in the room.

Dead silence. No one listened and they basically ignored him.

The Staid Organization

But when the most chosen one spoke out with the same insight, verbatim, it was as if the river parted. The prodigal son has spoken. The leader went on and on about how brilliant that idea was. Meanwhile, everyone’s gaze went to the overlooked young “slacker,” and they all just shrugged their shoulders.

In real life company culture, however, everyone can have ideas and they should be as valued whether you are on the lowest rung of the ladder, or up near the top (see my tips on five things you should do to help your career growth). This new generation of worker has numerous ideas about the workplace that organisations should pay heed to.

As I give speeches to college campuses across the Middle East (I’m based in Dubai), I am amazed by what I hear in the Q&A sessions and the overall level of discussion. I always end by saying I can’t wait for them to infiltrate all these staid organisation because they will bring change. They will liven up any “BS” session.

The Big Question Is, Will They Be heard?

However, there is no need for these sessions if you keep your ears to the ground. One of the roles I always enjoyed at my former companies was to walk around the floor at 10 am every morning and around three in the afternoon. Each day I would stop by someone’s desk to see what they were working on. This created a bond, and if they did not see me, they would seek me out.

I had advance knowledge of many issues, and I got a ton of ideas about what we could do to improve the workplace. Was it called brainstorming? Absolutely not.

“MBWA” Is Not New

MBWA is managing by walking around, and it is the greatest brainstorming model ever invented.

I read about a company that would require all of its workers to spend one day in the call center. Whether you are the big shot VP or the help desk person, everyone spent time in the pit.

Another unique trait of this company was that the driver that picked up people at the airport for interviews was part of the decision making process. His opinion was sought as to whether this person coming in for an interview treated them with respect during their drive.

Was it all about them, or did they offer conversation and ask questions? In other words, did they connect to people regardless of their title?

Your Takeaway

Communicate openly with your team, both direct reports and co-workers. That means recognising them for the good work they do. Create this atmosphere and you will improve their engagement with you as a manager.

Why A Bit Of Boredom Might Help Your Career

“When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.”John Kabat-Zinn

Boredom is something most of us try to avoid at all costs, and thanks to today’s vibrant entertainment industry there is usually no shortage of activities to keep us occupied from the time we wake until the moment our head hits the pillow at night.

Work, however, is one place where tedium is often difficult to avoid, but new research shows that this may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Boredom allows creativity to flourish

Recently, psychologists Dr. Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman from the University of Central Lancashire (United Kingdom) discovered that activities that are typically seen as boring, such as data entry or attending staff meetings, may help us to become more creative.

In one experiment, people were asked to come up with different uses for two polystyrene cups. But first, half of them were given the rather dull task of copying numbers from a telephone directory.

As you might expect, those who had initially busied themselves copying telephone numbers developed more creative ideas for using the cups than those who hadn’t.

In another similar experiment, people were again asked to complete a creative task, but this time, some of them were told to read out numbers from the telephone directory rather than writing them down.

As in the first experiment, those who hadn’t completed any task at all were less creative, but those who had read out the numbers were even more creative than those who had written them out.

This suggests that the more passive a boring activity is, the more room there is for creativity to flourish. For example, reading allows the brain to wander, which enhances creativity, but a more engaging activity like writing reduces the scope for daydreaming.

Other studies have shown that students with a tendency to daydream are often better learners, and although it is often seen as the result of a lack of discipline, daydreaming is actually a sign of a healthy and active mind.

What these findings mean for you

These findings are particularly valuable to those who work in creative industries like writing, film or music, but anyone can benefit from letting their mind wander once in a while.

By allowing yourself to be bored instead of trying to find some activity to fill the void, you’re actually giving your brain a chance to explore new possibilities and come up with ideas.

Some of the world’s most famous writers worked at tedious jobs all day, and then went home in the evening to create their masterpieces.

Stephen King worked as a high school janitor before he was published, and he actually thought of the concept for his first novel “Carrie” while cleaning the girls’ locker rooms.

Anne Rice was an insurance claims examiner before her now classic novel “Interview with the Vampire” was published, and Douglas Adams, author of “A Hitchhiker’s Gide to the Galaxy,” said the idea for his book came to him while he was moonlighting as a hotel security guard.

So if you’re in the habit of checking your Twitter feed or heading to the nearest coffee shop the minute boredom hits, you may want to hold off and endure it for while – that is, if you don’t want to miss out on your best idea yet.

photo credit: Rachel Elaine. via photopin cc