Creativity and productivity can thrive together

Guest article by Alastair Brown, CTO at BrightHR

In the modern business world, there’s a constant push for creative brilliance alongside getting the job done faster. Creativity and productivity are high on the professional agenda.

Creating something exceptional takes time. This isn’t efficient for a business with KPIs and annual targets to meet, but without the creative process, many businesses aren’t going anywhere.

That demand for results now means more creatives are expected to scale up and speed up, whilst doing more with much less — creative expediency.

Remember, employee engagement can improve if you learn to channel the right departments in the right way. Sales teams might expect perks, for example. Creatives love the chance to flex their imaginations.

So, how can businesses balance that out with the need to meet looming deadlines? Can creativity and productivity co-exist?

A bit about creativity

Some people seem inherently creative — for others, creativity doesn’t come as naturally. It seems like a genetic role of the dice.

Mozart wrote over 600 compositions before dying at the age of 35. Great authors will dedicate their lives to writing millions of words. Van Gogh created masterpieces with, what seemed like, barely any effort.

Composers, writers and painters might appear to be born creative, but there are other factors at play for creative success. It can be dependent on time and place, country and era.

Right now, the economic and professional climate involves pressure to work non-stop and get everything done as soon as possible to a high standard. Taking a step back and taking your time over a project isn’t always possible.

That’s not a great environment for maximising the creative process.

Childhood creativity

Co-chairman and worldwide chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather, Tham Khai Meng, wrote an article for the Guardian titled Everyone is born creative, but it is educated out of us at school. In the article, he writes:

“Innovate or die is not just a slogan, it’s a vital truth. Creativity is the most powerful competitive advantage a business can have. Companies need to fizz with new ideas and fresh thinking. But there’s a problem – there just aren’t enough fizzy people around.”

He then adds:

“Young children fizz with ideas. But the moment they go to school, they begin to lose the freedom to explore, take risks and experiment.”

And it’s true. Think back to your playground days and the wildly imaginative games you’d play with your friends. Plus, all the creative activities in lessons: painting, building things and writing stories.

From our formative years onwards, creativity it often associated with leisure time. Side projects staff work on outside of their working day. But it’s important to bring those flashes of brilliance into your workplace, whilst working towards your requirements with KPIs.

Balancing business needs between creativity and productivity

The problem with creative minds is the process isn’t measurable. With productivity, you can provide tangible data.

To get to that stage of presenting information, you’ll need to have some form of a creative process. Even if your industry doesn’t require a huge amount of it, you’ll still need a website and a team behind it selling your company to the world around you.

Whilst being creative doesn’t make a living for most people, it’s an enormous part of how your business comes across to the world.

To achieve the balance you need, you can consider the following steps:

  • Managing workloads: Don’t overburden staff. If you need to hire someone else to support your team then do it. Or just provide everyone with more time. Overloading everyone isn’t going to achieve great results.
  • Restrain thinking: Don’t overthink the situation in your business. Cut to the chase and find balance to get the best results.
  • Limit meetings: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with relentless meetings, to the point a business can have a meeting to discuss why there are so many meetings. Keep them to a minimum to better manage your time.
  • Use technology: There’s a wealth of software out there that allows you to manage your projects and deliver the best results. From project management software to choosing the right CMS for your copywriters or using Slack for team collaboration. Find what works best for you and use it.

Creativity tips

Ultimately, if you want your business to be more creative in an era when time is money, there are plenty of guides to turn to.

Larry Kim’s 9 ways to become more creative in the next 10 minutes is a good place to start.

You can also facilitate the creative process by taking pressure off your employees and providing them with inspiration around the office, such as:

  • Quiet rooms for copywriters to think
  • Artistic designs around your office for designers
  • A games room where everyone can relax
  • Regular social events at, and away from, your office to support teamwork and company rapport

Thank you to Alastair Brown, CTO at BrightHR for this guest article exploring how creativity and productivity are interlinked.

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