The benefits of and how to create and maintain a culture which encourages and recognises creativity and innovation
The major benefit to organisations which successfully create a culture of creativity and innovation is that the full range of talent within the organisation is brought to bear. This means new and better ways of doing things, better relationships with customers, reductions in costs, the establishment and maintenance of higher quality goods or services. It is, perhaps, worthy of note that Deming (1986), regarded as the main architect of Total Quality Principles, leading to the Total Quality Management (TQM) approach, firmly believes that companies must direct their efforts towards:
- innovation of products or services
- innovation of processes
- improvements of existing products
- improvement of existing processes.
Creating the appropriate culture in which staff would recognise that they had the talent and skills to do the above, according to Deming involved:
- recognising the first priority was the customer
- treating people as jewels rather than assets
- managers taking on the role of coaches and mentors rather than judges
- leaders/managers encouraging education and continuous improvement of every person.
Similarly, Heller (1997), looking at European companies and managers, identified a range of key strategies which the more revolutionary and successful companies used to build excellence through creativity and innovation. Among them were:
- developing leadership/management
- driving radical change
- reshaping culture
- achieving constant renewal
- achieving TQM.
Goldsmith and Clutterbuck (1998), examining how top companies excel in turbulent business environments, noted that in agreeing with Heller they also established these top companies had three other characteristics. These were:
- a challenging culture
- simple (but not simplistic) solutions to complex problems
- a highly developed sense of ‘rightness’.
The last of these fits in with Denning’s philosophy of ‘Get it right, first time — every time!’ Finally, Peters and Waterman (1982) identified a model known as the ‘7S framework’. They argued that high performing (or ‘excellent’) companies were able to integrate seven different aspects of the organisation. They are:
- Shared values.
The final area, shared values, was the most important. If an organisation had a culture where people shared the same values, then this was reflected in everything that the organisation did, such as the staff employed and the skills they possessed. Successful organisations were ones which had a culture of excellence. The major aspect highlighted by this research and still seen as highly relevant today was the importance of cultural and organisational renewal. Implicit in all the studies was the idea that organisations must constantly be creating or finding innovative solutions to growing and developing and this could only be done through people growing and developing by means of learning and training. Remember that training is an important part of developing your staff but there are other ways to help people develop. They include things like giving them more responsibility for what they do or delegating parts of your work to them. By doing so and empowering people (which does not mean loss of control), Garratt (2000) insists that: ‘organisations constantly transform themselves’. As a manager or leader, therefore, it is part of your job to help to develop an environment in which people have the chance to do new things and to keep up with new developments.
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