How to Develop a Creative Corporate Culture

Something always goes wrong. Inevitably. It happens to even the most successful businesses in the world, and it will happen to yours, too. Sears was the number one retailer in the world for decades, until it wasn’t. That didn’t just happen overnight; it took twenty years of the company feeling complacent and like it didn’t need to change for it to die.

In a more realistic sense, things go wrong every day. Decisions are made that turn out to have been wrong; decisions are not made when in fact they could have turned a profit. Getting one of these decisions wrong won’t cost a company its future; but consistently making the wrong decisions over time will bring your company to its knees. Just look at Sears.

Not too long ago, companies made the wrong choice when they disregarded social media as a fad. Sites like Myspace, YouTube, and Facebook were just cool new websites. Those companies soon learned their lessons, but they missed a giant head-start they could have had on everyone else.

Now, companies have decided to go all-in on social media. They have a social presence on practically every social media site, but invest little to no time on any of them. This is today’s crucial mistake that companies are making. Their plan to “get on social media” is less of a plan and more of the wish of a ten-year-old who doesn’t yet know how the world works.

That’s why companies need people who can think past the ideas of everyone else in the organization and see a path that they don’t. That’s why companies need creatives.

Creativity and the Corporate Culture

It’s no secret that it’s easier and cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. That’s why so much time and money is spent on customer retention. The same holds true for employees; it’s cheaper for a company to keep its employees and train them in a new skill than it is to hire new ones.

The training is essential, not just for the employees, but for the company. This is because fostering creativity in employees will require the company to change its environment as well. And this is where the real long-term effects come from. Once the workplace environment and corporate culture is changed, creativity will flow at every level of the organization.

Investing in a strong, creative corporate culture can be one of the best investments your organization makes. A strong culture will help enforce the identity of the organization and remind everyone what they are working for on a daily basis. A culture that emphasizes setting and meeting goals will see its employees setting and meeting more goals then before; a culture that emphasizes creativity will begin to see its employees having more creative ideas, especially in brainstorming sessions.

Jumping on the bandwagon isn’t always the best idea. There’s a quote from Mark Twain that I’ve taken to heart: “Whenever you find myself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” However, in the case of developing a strong corporate culture, this is one bandwagon that you absolutely do want your organization to jump on.

An organization with a creative culture will attract better employees and encourage them to stay. The chemistry among these employees will also be better and more efficient. If your organization doesn’t have this type of strong culture, a hundred others will, and the good employees will go to your competitors.

Whether you’re an employee or a manager, the topic of corporate culture is very important to you. If you want to take steps to improve your organization’s culture, here are a few things you should consider:

  • What is the current culture? It’s important to define what exactly the current corporate culture is in order to change it. Or, rather, what is it supposed to be. Many times, an organization will slowly lose site of what it really stands for. This is the beginning of the end for any corporation. Where is the corporate culture lacking? What idea is dominating the culture? Answering these questions will help give you a better idea of how to change it.

  • How well does everyone else understand the culture? Do your employees or coworkers understand what ideas the culture is promoting. If not, that means the culture isn’t strong enough or defined enough to be effective at all.

  • How consistent is the culture? Does every member of the organization live and breath this culture? Do the leaders? If the leaders of an organization don’t exemplify the culture, then none of the employees will.

Once you define what your organization’s culture is (or what it should be) and how strong it is, you can begin to work in creativity. If you’re an employee, approach your manager with a plan. If he or she refuses to listen, then maybe it’s time to find a new organization to work with.

New creative practices can range from brainstorming sessions to creative writing workshops. Devoting even thirty minutes a day to some sort of creative exercise is enough to transform the culture. One great idea is to ask questions that sound ridiculous and try to find answers. For example, if your organization sell real estate, ask yourself what it would look like if you doubled your advertising budget, or tripled. What would the advertisements look like? What would you be doing that you’re not doing now? How can you do those things with your current budget? These questions can lead to some powerful answers.

I began asking myself these questions. I imagined what it would look like if I got $50,000 for each gig. I imagined what I would be doing differently; how I would treat those clients differently than I treat my current ones; what the magic tricks would look like; what the rest of the show would look like; what the advertising would look like. As it turns out, most of what I thought up doesn’t take $50,000 to do, and are very doable right now. It transformed how I view my business and has changed how I am proceeding in the future.

Obviously, I’m not going to start charging $50,000 for each gig (not yet, at least). The point isn’t to figure out how to charge more; it’s a thought exercise to find ways I can innovate today. If I had no free time, I would have never been able to do this. Devoting time to creative thinking is crucial to fostering a creative corporate culture.

Google does this better than perhaps any other major company today. It encourages employees to give time to creative side project and has created an environment to foster the sharing of ideas. Ideas in an organization is like money in the economy; just as how an economy is based on money exchanging hands, so an organization’s creative culture is based on exchanging ideas.

Each and every organization that wishes to have more creative employees should start with having a culture where people are encouraged to think of new ideas and share them with other. This is the first step to fostering a creative corporate culture, which is where your best ideas will come from.