Business is, in its reduced form, a relentless exercise in problem-solving. Creativity is, in its essence, about solving problems. It is hardly surprising therefore, to find that the most successful companies tend to be full of creative people.
This is more than a simple matter of hiring mavericks and dreamers. Creativity depends on context and, crucially, culture, as Facebook’s European boss Nicola Mendelsohn explains.
"Creativity has never been more important in business. People love a good story – it’s in our nature – but how we tell them is changing. When I came up through [advertising agency] BBH, I’d spend six months on a 30 second TV ad, which would last 18 months. Now, businesses put out Instagram Stories daily, and they only last 24 hours.
"When you hear the word creativity, you tend to think about artists and designers. You can go au couture if you like, but creativity’s not being different for the sake of different. I’ll never forget [advertising doyenne] John Hegarty used to say the tighter the brief, the more the opportunity for creativity. You just keep coming up with solutions until you find the magic.
"You might look at an engineering tech company and say coding doesn’t feel very creative, but our teams are very diverse in every sense of the word. They’re multidisciplinary and come together to bounce around ideas around one tightly defined problem.
"One of the posters we have around the office says ‘Facebook is 1% done’. The idea is that people feel comfortable suggesting ideas because we’re not finished, we’re not perfect. It’s in our buildings as well – the ceilings and concrete pillars are exposed, there’s a lot that’s purposefully not finished, to encourage that mindset.
"Another poster reminds us to ‘fail hard’, but it’s important to reinforce that culture of psychological safety by sharing stories internally of where things didn’t go right."
For more information
Here are 7.3 tips for being creative at work. Here’s an argument for measuring creativity rather than efficiency, while in this piece argues that most companies will never be truly creative, despite what their CEOS might say.
Image credit: Rodolfo Clix