How Creativity Fuels Growth and How to Encourage It

By Rajendra Sappa

Creativity in the workplace, whether stemming from an individual or a collective, stands as an indispensable ingredient for an organisation’s innovation, driving its ultimate growth. In essence, creativity becomes the catalyst that propels progress and ingenuity. Within the business realm, this coveted skill emerges as highly sought-after in specific industries such as ITeS, advertising & marketing, healthcare, and manufacturing, to name a few. These industries face complex challenges that demand imaginative solutions.

The concept of creativity encompasses a vast and extensively researched realm, spanning both academia and industries. In simpler terms, creativity represents an intangible outcome—a novel and valuable idea that manifests into an innovative solution, product, process, or service, ultimately fueling organisational growth.

Regardless of the industry to which they belong, organisations must embrace innovation to ensure their survival. Innovation can make or break an organisation, as history has demonstrated through various examples. Countless companies and iconic brands have met their demise due to a lack of innovation. On the other hand, some have achieved soaring success by effectively managing their innovation strategies. Moreover, there are those on the precipice of failure who have successfully revived their reputation through innovation.

Considering the paramount importance of fostering innovation, here are several ways organisations, HR departments, and managers can foster and encourage creativity:

  1. Cultivate an environment that nurtures new ideas: Establishing an atmosphere marked by support, cooperation, and collaboration across teams and functions enables individuals to share their skills, talents, and ideas, all working toward a shared goal. This approach not only enhances team dynamics directly but also ignites a spirit of innovation.
  2. Embrace innovation and tolerate failure: Valuing innovation extends beyond providing adequate resources or rewarding creativity. It encompasses the ability to tolerate failure and encourage employees to take risks. Unless failure or risk-taking behaviour involves gross negligence or poor performance, punitive measures or treating failure as a fatal flaw can stifle creativity altogether. Such actions can also have a detrimental effect on employee morale and the overall organisational culture.
  3. Foster workplace flexibility: Leaders should view flexible work arrangements (FWA) as strategic methods to optimise their teams’ performance, rather than mere perks. Traditional work practices rely on established processes and procedures. However, transitioning away from these norms and implementing a flexible workplace empowers individuals and teams to redefine how they approach their tasks. Workplace flexibility enhances employees’ capacity to unleash their creativity, enabling them to think beyond conventional boundaries and develop new ideas that benefit the company.
  4. Empower employees through autonomy: Granting employees and teams a sense of control over their work and ideas goes a long way in encouraging creativity. While freedom in terms of “what to do” may benefit specific roles and scenarios, the most valuable form of job autonomy is enabling individuals to decide “how to do a task.”
  5. Embrace diversity in the workplace: The world thrives on diversity, and so should the workplace. Empirical studies consistently demonstrate that diversity of thought enhances the problem-solving process. By welcoming diversity in terms of people, experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds, organisations can ignite innovation with certainty.
  6. Cultivate innovative leadership: Leadership holds a crucial role in unlocking creativity within an organisation. While traditional leadership models emphasise hierarchy, control, and adherence to established protocols, innovative leadership approaches prioritise empowering and inspiring individuals to think creatively, thus fostering a culture of innovation. Leaders practising such approaches adopt a servant leadership style, prioritising the needs of their team members and providing the necessary support and resources for exploring new ideas. They act as facilitators, removing obstacles and fostering an environment where individuals feel empowered to take risks and think outside the box. They actively seek diverse perspectives, challenge existing norms, and encourage experimentation.
  7. Harness collaborative partnerships: Innovation thrives through collaboration. At times, accelerating the innovation process with ground-breaking quality requires collaborative partnerships with competent individuals or small expert teams, whether internal or external. Collaborating with external organisations, institutions, or individuals from diverse industries infuses fresh perspectives and novel ideas into an organisation’s practices or innovation efforts. These strategic partnerships create an environment conducive to creativity and innovation, acting as symbiotic relationships where individuals serve as sounding boards for one another.
  8. Seek culture coaching from freelance mentors and specialised organisations: Another potent approach involves engaging freelance mentors and organisations specialising in culture coaching. These consultants and entities offer professional culture coaching, conducting assessments, facilitating workshops, and providing tailored strategies to foster an environment that encourages and sustains creative thinking. They assist organisations in identifying and overcoming barriers to innovation, fostering a growth mindset, and promoting collaborative and agile practices. Engaging with such experts and specialised vendors allows organisations to challenge the status quo, instil a culture of continuous learning, and unlock the untapped creative potential of their teams.
  9. Instil a fair sense of urgency and challenge: Creativity flourishes when a sense of urgency or time pressure aligns with intriguing challenges. However, excessive pressure and constraints can hamper creativity. When faced with a problem and a ticking clock, individuals tend to exercise their cognitive muscles and explore multiple avenues for resolution. However, excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines can hinder creativity, resulting in quality issues and a constant state of “fire-fighting.” At the organisational level, similar pressures arise when competing with external entities, as exemplified by the recent AI race and a system glitch.

An individual’s creativity and an organisation’s innovation are intricately intertwined, with the workplace atmosphere playing a pivotal role in unlocking employees’ creative potential. Given the right conditions and environment, everyone possesses the ability to unlock their creativity to a greater extent. Organisations should establish policies and a culture that nurtures innovation, fostering creativity as a fundamental value. By driving growth through innovation and maximising performance and productivity, organisations can unleash the full potential of their teams and achieve remarkable success.

Rajendra Sappa is a qualified chartered accountant. At AscentHR, he is responsible for elevating global  standards of operations and executing company goals by delivering Managed Payroll services for India as well as global operations. As a part of his role, he drives efficient delivery operation strategies and efficiencies that lead to recognizable outcomes to customers.



(The author is Mr. Rajendra Sappa, CDO, AscentHR, and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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