Creative Management

By Martin Gilliard

Creative Management is essential these days to ensure the steady flow of ideas that are required in order to produce a steady stream of value creating products and services.

Creative employees drive the competitiveness of an organization by coming up with incremental improvements to existing products or services or radical new ideas that can potentially give birth to new markets and industries.

creative management

(Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson) 


Key to creative management within your organization is increasing efficiency and productivity while maintaining a desired quality level. This however is not always that straightforward as the creative process is often complicated and occasionally chaotic.

Increasing Individual Creativity

Research highlights that you should not offer rewards or other financial incentives to promote creativity. Extrinsic rewards of this nature have been shown to reduce creative input. Instead your employees need to be motivated by the intrinsic rewards related to the challenge of the tasks, problem domains and associated projects themselves.

People are at their most creative when they are in their element as suggested by research undertaken by Sir Ken Robinson or when they are in a state of incredible concentration and deep focus as a result of undertaking an enjoyable and rewarding task as per the “flow” concept put forward by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

So ensure that you give your people challenges that they enjoy.

Get individuals to create a “getting to know me” presentation and to pitch it out to the team. From these sessions you get to learn what passions individuals have outside of work. Can you use these passions to your advantage? Can an employee hobby or passion assist you in your next big project or on the problem domain that you are currently working on? People love challenges and they love the feeling of accomplishment but if you can combine this with an individual’s passion too then you are on a sure winner for increased creativity within your group. Matching the appropriate intrinsic motivator to the employee can be key. 

Creative individuals detest bureaucracy so where possible try and break down any creative barriers that are in place within your organization, including reducing the number of unnecessary meetings. You don’t want your people thinking about where all there time has wasted away to.

Increasing Group Creativity

With creative management it is also important to ensure that your organization is open to external sources that can act as inputs to new ideas. These sources can include external seminars, training, suppliers, customers, trade shows and trade publications, etc. This openness to absorbing external ideas is known as “absorptive capacity”. Increased absorptive capacity has a direct relationship to increased creativity.

Directly influence this openness to external sources by inviting companies or individuals to your organization to give the employees a talk on a particular technology or area of expertise. Google are renowned for doing this with their Google tech talks many of which are directly available from within you tube. Technology specific conferences can enhance skills and promote external relationships.

Mistakes and failures bring new learning to the organization – so don’t punish them. The learning’s acquired can often be worth celebrating.

Ensure that you have an effective knowledge management tool in place where employees can record results of their creative project efforts and where they can also access subject matter experts who can assist in guiding people quickly beyond problematic project obstacles. Encourage employees to contribute to the tool, suggest they create “how to articles” for others or white papers on particular technologies. Use the tool to get geographically diverse teams to come together and contribute / share ideas. 

When it comes to tools and technologies provide leading edge and encourage their use. The latest and greatest tools and technologies prevent your employees from getting bored and keep them intellectually stimulated. Of course, let your employees be the judge of what is the latest and greatest – do not enforce technologies that restrict people’s creative efforts or abilities.

As with any good management style trust, respect and praise of your employees is important along with ensuring that new hires fit well within the team and meet the required performance expectations. 

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