How Creativity Drives a Culture of Innovation

Creativity and Innovation

Discover how your organisation can embrace creativity to fuel cutting-edge ideas. Build a culture of innovation across your teams with Studio Zao.

Did you know that 69% of employees would leave their current position for a similar role at a more innovative organisation?

As a business leader, you need to find new ways to stay relevant within a crowded marketplace. To attract top talent, you need to create an engaging workplace and foster a culture of innovation.

Read on as we explore ways to encourage innovation in the workplace and offer tips to help your business thrive.

What’s the Difference Between Creativity and Innovation?

While ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are used as buzzwords in almost all industries, very few businesses truly understand what it means to be creative or innovative. So, how can you embrace creativity at work and what’s the difference between creativity and innovation? 

  • Creativity is expansive thinking. Everything starts with an idea. Fostering a culture of creativity means giving your people the freedom to think outside the box and encouraging the flow of ‘off-the-wall’ ideas. Creativity requires a multi-disciplinary approach to solve problems in new ways and find alternative perspectives.
  • Innovation is the implementation of something new. Unless your business has the guts to turn ideas into action, creativity can feel like hot air. The most exciting businesses are constantly looking for ways to cut costs, improve efficiency, enhance customer experiences, and create new revenue streams. Innovation could include new management structures, business models, products, partnerships, routes to market, or even marketing strategies.

What’s the Relationship Between Creativity & Innovation?

Fostering a culture of innovation needs the ability to embrace expansive thinking together with bold implementation. A process known as the Double Diamond Framework is often used in both professional and creative environments to guide the creative process.

Instead of treating creativity and innovation as two separate disciplines, the Double Diamond Framework harnesses a cyclical relationship between the two.

The synergy between creativity and innovation is a four-step process:

  1. Discover new challenges
  2. Define what needs to be solved
  3. Develop creative solutions
  4. Implement innovative actions

In forward-thinking companies, this process continually repeats to create a ‘perfect storm.’ 

Repeated innovation helps them identify new areas for improvement and more sophisticated solutions. With time, these organisations will develop a toolbox of methods or a ‘method bank’ — accelerating the creative process and enhancing their ability to implement ambitious ideas.

Why Are Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation So Important?

Embracing creativity and innovation is essential for your business to stay ahead of the competition. If your business stands still, your customers will be quick to look elsewhere.

Whether it’s providing cutting-edge software, unrivalled customer support, beautiful design, clever marketing, or seamless customer experiences, all businesses need something special to stand out from the crowd.

While there’s always an element of risk and cost associated with nurturing a culture of innovation, positioning yourself as an innovator with a unique approach takes you one step closer to becoming a long-lasting market leader.

How to put intrapreneurship into practice?

Our brand new Intrapreneurship Guide covers 6 lessons on intrapreneurship, including practical tips and tools, valuable both to Leaders and Intrapreneurs looking to deploy innovation effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

How to Encourage Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace

Promoting creativity and innovation within your workplace doesn’t have to require massive budgets or drastic changes. You can embrace creativity by:

  • Creating safe spaces for experimentation. Creativity requires a sandpit where experimentative ideas are supported, success is rewarded, and small failures are accepted as learning exercises.
  • Designing inspiring work environments. If your employees are working in blank-walled offices, their work is likely to reflect this.
  • Promoting a healthy work/play balance. Encouraging employees to have fun and build meaningful relationships will help them think outside the box. People need to trust their co-workers and feel comfortable to express their true creativity.
  • Encouraging adventure. Travelling allows employees to expand their horizons and use insights from other cultures to inform the way they work at home.
  • Building cross-disciplinary teams. If you put five data analysts in a room and ask them to solve a problem, they’ll (often) create the same solution five times. Encouraging multi-disciplinary collaboration will bring together ideas and perspectives from all angles to create innovative solutions.
  • Inspiring your people. Whether it’s inviting guest speakers or running an in-house book club, creativity can be contagious when people feel inspired.
  • Rewarding lateral thinking. Consider how your company can rethink goal-setting and key performance indicators (KPIs) to reward a creative and holistic approach to work.

How Creativity Helps Attract the Best & Brightest Talent

Creating a culture of innovation benefits your company, but also serves to attract the best prospective employees.

With 85% of employees claiming they’re dissatisfied with their workplace, organisations must look for new ways to boost employee engagement and workplace experiences. No one wants to feel like they’re working in a dead-end job with little room for personal growth or intrapreneurial impact.

A culture of innovation is a powerful way to empower employees with new responsibilities and boost engagement through creative processes. Creating fun and inspiring work environments makes people want to be part of your business. They’ll also be less likely to run off to competitors if your company is setting itself up to be the ‘next big thing.’

Organisations Embracing a Culture of Innovation and Creativity

The best way to embrace a culture of innovation is to learn from those who do it well. While there’s no clear-cut recipe for success, the key to success is establishing a core set of design principles that permeate through your entire business.

Here are some of our favourite examples of businesses who have owned their design principles and embraced creativity to take brave steps into the unknown:

A/B Testing by Netflix

Netflix has a dedicated team of over 300 employees who specialise in creating personalised customer experiences. The media giant relies on experimentation to collect customer data and learns from A/B testing to make iterative technical innovations.

Virtual Experimentation by P&G

P&G’s innovative take on customer research means they can generate new product ideas 10,000 times faster than they could ten years ago. Virtual store environments are used to track customer interactions, helping P&G optimise the way they market their products.

Micro-Experiments by Google

While every results page on Google may appear to look the same, the tech giant runs anywhere from 50 to 200 experiments on their sites across the world. Tiny adjustments to formatting and visual display help to fine-tune Google’s results page for maximum impact and enhance the user experience (UX).