This blog is the culmination of over 22 years of working with Construction Services clients looking for ways to better their companies and themselves, but are often stuck in the day to day grind of fierce competition, budgets and schedules…with little time for anything else, let alone creative thinking.
Creative thinking is my job however as I help them:
Identify areas in their businesses that were holding them back from being their best.
Improve those areas through creative, positive, long lasting methods and..
Prosper through creative implementation of those ideas and methods.
But I am a consultant with a well-defined life span with each client so what happens to creative thinking and solutions when I am gone and the daily grind begins to wear them down?
But before I go on let’s begin with this:
Word-smithing and definition twisting are so prevalent today that I begin all my seminars and discussions with widely accepted definitions so we have clarity of meaning:
Creativity – noun
1. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination:
1. to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.
2. to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.
Synonyms: produce, generate, bring into being, fabricate, fashion, build, construct
Antonyms: break, destroy, disorder, neglect, ruin
It’s no secret that information and advice can be found almost everywhere today, peer groups, books, seminars, articles and trade organizations.
Simply type, click and get ready for a tsunami of knowledge…and for the record, I’m “all in” for learning, but it’s how that knowledge is often used that troubles me.
From my work with clients, I see most information they absorb is often regurgitated
as nothing more than repackaged and recycled ideas and rhetoric mistakenly believed to be creative thinking and worse…effective communications.
It’s neither and if you do this, it’s hurting rather than helping your businesses.
New ideas and rhetoric may resonate with you and seem like answers to problems and goals but it is not creative thinking.
Slapping your company logo on some else’s ideas or procedures or an email recommending or requiring that a certain book be read and sending it to the “troops” is plagiarism at worst and laziness at best.
And it’s certainly not leadership.
Why would anyone except people with few original ideas and born followers or those who are so frightened that they will lose their jobs if they don’t blindly follow listen to such instructions?! Would you?
Are these the people you want working for you?
Is this the company you are building?
If you answered “yes” to the last two questions than you better beef up your HR department because you just installed a metaphorical revolving door for employees… one where those pesky “creative thinkers” have an easy exit.
That’s tragic because creative ideas from your company’s diverse and unique workforce gives you a strong competitive advantage.
From what I’ve observed with clients and potential clients, creative thinking is either viewed as some dangerous, risky concept that will bring about a loss of control or a very desirable goal and a tool to be wielded to improve the company.
There seems to be very little middle ground.
So for those of you who don’t believe creative thinking will improve your company,
you probably should stop reading here.
The rest of this piece is about ways to effectively incorporate creative thinking into your companies.
* Abandon top down, Command & Control management.
The very structure of this type of management kills creative thinking. The very basis
of C&C outside of the military is fear and fearful employees don’t contribute.
* Broaden your knowledge of business. Seek knowledge and ideas outside of your
business. Add information intake from other business sources and encourage others
in your organization to do the same. You’ll be amazed how many fresh, time tested
ideas come your way!
* Encourage creative thinking in your company. Make it easy for new ideas to be
shared and…take those ideas seriously, no matter how small. Most meaningful
changes start with a small idea. Most ideas begin with a simple question:
How can we do this better?
* Recognize the creative thinkers and give them more challenges within their
respective area of expertise. The good news is that you probably have employees
who are naturally creative. The bad news is not everyone is comfortable with
creative thinking. That’s ok, everyone is needed to help the company succeed.
* Be clear about and share the needs of the company that might be improved by
creative thinking. Give creative thinkers structure…a “target” and receptacle for
their ideas. This will improve the flow, frequency and quality of ideas that are
generated by employees.
* Start small. When you get a good idea that applies to your company’s goals and needs begin with small changes that stem from that idea. The most common mistake I see with clients is their desire to make broad sweeping changes with little support or explanation for those who must change. Doing this only strengthens resistance to change and kills creative thinking from within your company.
* Lastly, this is for all you Hippos (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion, and my next Blog
article ) out there.
Respect and seek out knowledge, ideas and decisions that are different from your
own…and you might need to accept that you are not the creative thinker you
believe you are.
Although I encounter more and more creative thinkers in top positions in
construction, most are still pragmatic, uninventive people.
Remember, Creativity is not destructive to your company’s order, prosperity and strength.
It’s not chaos.
Managed well and with good intentions it very well could give your company the competitive edge you’ve always wanted.