When we think of creativity, we think of artists, musicians and actors. We imagine creativity comes from within their souls like magic. Creativity is often thought of as an individual endeavor that leads to an ‘Aha’ moment that turns into creative expression.
If creativity is a series of individual, inspirational moments, how can a company be creative?
But we know it happens. Apple, Pixar, and Google are just a few examples of companies that are constantly creating. If the creative process is a solo endeavor then how do these large, established companies create an environment that nurtures creativity?
The answer is that they follow a recipe.
It’s a recipe for creating an environment that helps incubate ideas from the moment of inspiration to the moment they are rolled out to the public. This recipe has the following ingredients:
Cultivate inspiration: The company culture includes ways for employees to explore new ideas. When Google made its initial public offering its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote in their IPO letter that employees are encouraged “to spend 20 percent of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google, in order to help the company be more creative and innovative.”
Communicate the vision: Ideas are great, but for a company to flourish the ideas have to turn into offerings. This means that an individual vision has to be communicated to other people. Pixar, for example, has a development department that is tasked with assembling small “incubation teams”. Their job is to refine initial ideas to the point that the leadership team can be convinced that the idea has potential to be a success.
Bring the idea to life: While communicating the idea to others is an important step, to bring it to life, the vision has to be designed in a way that will bring profit to the company. X, the moonshot factory creates an atmosphere where viable ideas are evaluated based on rigorous criteria. The company gives space for “crazy ideas” to move to the top, and then apply rigorous business principles to see if bringing the idea to market is in the company’s best interest. Once the idea is vetted in this process, the company throws their support behind implementing the idea.
Creativity can be achieved in companies of any size. It is all about instilling an environment that supports sharing new ideas along with a framework that turns that ‘aha’ moment into reality.