Building a creative company: Embrace new ideas

    September 22, 2006

A creative company is a must in today’s highly competitive business environment. To build that innovative business, it takes courage on the part of management.

Owners and management must be prepared to accept new ideas from employees to make that jump to another level. Letting go of control of idea generation often takes a giant leap of faith.

For many business owners and executives, new ideas are often viewed as being dangerous. Innovation can fail to achieve the goals promised by an enthusiastic employee. Creative ideas often result in real financial losses for the company. On a more personal level, creative thinkers are often viewed as a potential threat to entrenched managers. At the same time, change is not often welcomed by the rank and file workers either. Potential hazards lurk everywhere to ensnare, and often derail the career, of the bearer of new ideas.

Thinking of creativity as a recipe for disaster is only looking at one side of the issue. It’s easy to look at what the new product, production or distribution method, or marketing technique can’t do. Instead, it’s time to turn things around, and examine what the innovative plans can do. By the way, looking at problems from another angle, by reversing them, is itself a well known creative thinking technique.

Failures of new products and methods are inevitable. That is a fact of business life. What is often forgotten in the critique of the new proposal is the possibility that the status quo might result in failure as well. For businesses in financial trouble, gambling all of the company resources on an organizational survival plan might be the only way out of a potential bankruptcy. For most profitable companies, ignoring creative thinkers might miss opportunities to propel the organization to a new level of financial strength.

Along with the loss of opportunity, is the possible brain drain of talent from your business. Unappreciated employees, whose ideas are constantly ignored or worse, will soon move on to other companies. You might wake up to a competitor besting your company with an idea you rejected on a previous occasion.

Seek out ideas from all employees, regardless of level. Creativity isn’t an exclusive property of the executive suite, and doesn’t require degrees and credentials. Long time workers will provide many great money or time saving suggestions. Along with those cash flow helpers, will appear some very good revenue enhancing ideas as well. Reward the creative thinkers and innovators. A real bonus is a plan developed by those who carry it out will have a much higher rate of success than one imposed from above. The creators have a stake in their plan’s success.

Of course, with all plans, there will be failures. To lower the impact of less than expected results, run a pilot project. Try the altered system out as a test case on a limited basis. If the results are positive, expand the scope of the program. If the pilot project yields weak or even disastrous outcomes, then it can be either revamped or scrapped entirely. Test the idea before discard it and good plans won’t be wasted.

While there will be many false starts, all it takes are one or two major successes to build your company within your industry.

Don’t discourage employee ideas. Be prepared for some failures.

On the other hand, brace yourself for some powerful breakthroughs to even greater profitability.

Become a creative company today.

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