Environments that encourage creativity and innovation tend to be extremely successful. When we think of marketing and advertising we usually picture a Mad Men-esque agency that produces brilliant creative campaigns with innovative ads. Most of the glitz and glam of marketing is associated with spectacular advertising visuals that are the result of collaboration between highly creative minds.
Creativity and innovation are two of the most valuable characteristics your company can foster. According to Creativity at Work, value creation is a result of combining creativity, empathy, and innovation. Take a minute to think about the best advertisement you’ve ever seen. What makes it so great? Clearly, it left you with a memorable impression. Chances are you think the ad was creative and the approach to advertising was innovative.
Are Creativity and Innovation Different?
There’s a fine line that’s commonly blurred when people consider creativity and innovation. While they do share similar characteristics, each is unique.
Let’s clear up a common myth associated with creativity before going any farther. Creativity is not the result of a single moment of inspiration. Creativity isn’t something that just comes to you, it’s something you have to develop over an extended period of time. It is the act of being original and transcending conventional ideas, rules, interpretations and patterns. It’s a skill that anyone can learn with motivation, dedication, and practice.
The late, great Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” Innovation is all about connecting the dots that other people miss. Many people associate innovation with new, fun gadgets and technologies, but it’s much more than that. Ideas, information, and inventions that can add or improve value are innovation.
So what’s the difference between the two? Business Insider said it best:
“Creativity is the unleashing of the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas”, while “Innovation is about introducing change into relatively stable systems.”
How They Work Together
Innovation and creativity are a match made in heaven. Innovation can be used to apply the unique ideas and concepts that stem from creativity in a measurable way. In essence, innovation is applied creativity.
Let’s look at an example. A bicycle company wants to generate ideas for promoting their latest, greatest bike. A brainstorming session is arranged where the free flow of ideas are exchanged. At the end of the session, the team has come up with a great idea to promote the new bike using a live event sponsorship. The only thing left to do is determine the logistics of how this promotion will be run, when it will start, what budget is appropriate, and many other aspects that need to be finalized.
The creativity in this example occurs when new ideas are presented that challenge the traditional approaches to promotion. The innovation occurs in the process of implementing and improving all aspects of the promotion to enhance the perceived value.
Fostering a Creative Environment that Encourages Innovation
A highly creative environment that lacks innovation will be completely ineffective. You need innovation to drive creative ideas and see them through to completion.
- Create a stimulating atmosphere that allows people to have fun, focus, and relax while they work. Open spaces, artwork, games, and plants can all have an inspirational effect that helps stimulate a creative and innovative environment.
- Provide structure and guidance that will allow people to see the big picture. When people understand the business goals they’ll be more likely to reach those goals.
- Equip them to achieve success. Make sure they have all the tools and training they need to achieve great things. Remove barriers to success.
- Allow freedom to make choices and be autonomous. Giving people space allows them to feel more comfortable and encourages creativity and innovation. Micro-managed employees feel like they’re constantly being critiqued and can’t produce their best work.
Is your business doing enough to utilize the power of creativity and innovation? 75% of people don’t believe they’re living up to their creative potential. A study by the Harvard Business School stated that approximately 95% of consumer products fail. Usually, new products fail because there’s nothing new and nothing that introduces unique value to the market. These numbers are shocking, but also prove that there’s a massive opportunity for businesses to use creativity and innovation to increase their market advantage.