How to Build A Creative Culture At Your Institutionby mStoner Staff
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 2 minutes
More than ever, colleges and universities are looking for ways to innovate and attract the most creative workforce. The importance of creativity and design thinking is paramount for producing work that edges out the competition, attracts right-fit students, and encourages alumni and donor engagement. What used to be a necessary skill for those working in the arts has now gained traction for those traditionally “non-creative” roles.
A strong creative culture ranks high in employee satisfaction and will attract the best talent to your college or university. The result is better products, services, and improved customer happiness. If your institution isn’t already taking steps toward improving its creative culture, now would be a great time to start.
Start with these four recommendations to begin the process of building a creative culture.
- Build a diverse team
We all can appreciate the importance of diversity in the workplace. When thinking about new hires, don’t forget about a diverse range of personalities and work styles: natural leaders and the consummate team player, introverts and extroverts, skeptics and cheerleaders. They all have their place and purpose on a creative team. And when you’re building that team, look for candidates that will help shape the culture with their alternate work styles and approaches. Susan T. Evans, vice president of client solutions, shares some additional thoughts on what to look for when hiring designers.Imagine a brainstorm session where everyone brings the same skills to the table, and everyone has the same approach to problem solving. The likelihood of anything innovative happening in that meeting are slim to none. But a healthy assortment of personalities will lead to new ideas and new techniques, and everyone can learn a little something about how to work together with different ways of working.
This one is simple. If you want to foster a creative culture, you must value collaboration as part of the process. Sometimes it’s necessary to forget about job titles and competencies, and simply be free to share your thoughts — all while knowing that your opinion is valued. Communication and creativity will thrive. Successful collaboration requires open and honest communication, which can be difficult to achieve with respect to professional hierarchy. Ask yourself, “Are the people in my organization comfortable speaking their minds?” If the answer is no, or if the most outspoken and opinionated people have stopped talking, try creating more opportunities for everyone to contribute equally to the culture. Remember that any feedback, even negative, is a sign of engagement and interest from your team. If they’re not saying much, they’re not invested in making things better.
- Make mistakes, and then fix them
Mistakes can be embarrassing, and even when we do everything we can to avoid them, they happen. Understanding the difference between mistakes that are the result of sloppiness versus those that are the result of taking a chance on an idea will save your team from a lot of undue stress and anxiety. And when a mistake happens, don’t lose trust in your people. Maintaining confidence in your team, even after the occasional misstep, is integral to their growth. When it’s clear that every mistake is an opportunity to learn, and everyone is learning together, we can remain open to new and better possibilities.
- Get motivated by the work
Perks are great, but all the free lunches and beer in the world can’t take the place of employee interest and engagement. People that aren’t engaged in the work aren’t motivated to do their best. It’s also hard to have any sense of pride in your craft when you just don’t care. And while it may be difficult to have a steady flow of projects that piques everyone’s intellectual curiosity, you can create opportunities for your staff to tell you what interests them. Help them find ways to bring their unique talents into the workplace.
Building a creative culture requires constant cultivation. It is not enough to make creativity one of the bullet points in your mission statement, or to hire the latest creative du jour. It comes from making it a core value for your organization and remaining true to that value in every aspect of what you do. By incorporating these recommendations, you’ll create the best environment for innovation and creativity.