Creativity: Today's Hot Commodity

Creative thinking is key to thriving in today’s economy, but what does it mean for your organization?
by Robin Albright, CRCC
creative visualization techniques
Albright uses simple illustrations to create a visual interpretation of what positive leadership, effective communication or creative conflict resolution might look like.

Businesses must be quick to capture their customers’ attention. Consumers go through more than 50 percent of the buying process, on average, before even talking to a real person. The average human’s attention span is eight seconds—one second less than a goldfish—a decline of four seconds since the year 2000. In order to be “click-worthy,” organizations need a creative team to generate, distribute, promote and curate content that piques attention and keeps potential customers engaged.

Communicating Visually
Creativity is becoming the one thing almost every company needs in order to compete in this big, globalized world. Thank goodness, it’s already instilled in each of us. It may show up differently from person to person, but it’s there. And the good news is that the more we encourage and cultivate it, the more it will present itself.

As a graphic facilitator serving the corporate world, I’m usually called in to help with self-development or alleviate conflict for associates. I use simple illustrations to create a visual interpretation of what positive leadership, effective communication or creative conflict resolution might look like. I ask powerful questions to help clients tap into their own resourcefulness, solve problems and invent new ideas.

These diagrams are extremely effective because having visuals to support the solution adds an extra layer of comprehension. Research tells us that up to 87 percent of the population processes and retains information best when a visual approach is utilized. This is why graphic facilitation, or visual coaching, has become so popular in recent years.

Here’s an example: Roche Pharmaceutical Company decided their mission statement was important enough to hire a graphic facilitator to come in and draw it out, hoping to increase understanding amongst employees. And the results were astounding. Before the graphic facilitation, less than 40 percent of the employees understood their company’s vision and strategy, but afterwards, that number climbed to a whopping 96 percent. All because of a few pictures!

Encouraging Workplace Creativity
Of course, creativity is a mindset. It’s not all drawing pictures and being expressive; in business, empowerment is key. Here are some simple tactics to encourage creativity in the workplace:

  • Extend an invitation to your employees to think or do differently than their normal. Encourage them to fear failure less. Consider hanging a sign that says: Fail Forward.
  • Encourage brainstorming sessions—and set aside time for them.
  • Bring in Legos and brain-stimulating toys. Encourage your employees to play during their breaks.
  • Run contests that encourage radical thinking. Reward those who come up with the most outlandish ideas.
  • Hand out gift cards to those who can recite the company’s mission statement.
  • Create a permanent position for a creative thinker/facilitator and empower them to engage with others in creative ways.
  • Change is hard for most people, so offer suggestions on how to make subtle changes like how they sign off on their emails, how they kick off meetings, etc.
  • Encourage your employees to take a short walk every day. Ask them to notice things that they wouldn’t normally focus on.
  • Hand out sketch pads and pencils and encourage doodling. The process helps with focus and creativity; some of our most renowned presidents were doodlers! Use the Zentangle Method to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.
  • Design workspaces to feel more inclusive and encourage teamwork.
  • Reinforce diversity, stressing that not everything has to be the same.
  • Praise successes! Reward them creatively.

Remember: for these suggestions to work, you must lead by example and be fearless. So fly your freak flag and be different! As a result, your business will feel fresh and organic, offering your customers the creative options they desire. It’s a win/win. PM

Robin Albright, CPCC, is a certified life coach, caregiver, author and visual workshop artist. She lives in Peoria.

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