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Innovation and Best Practice
for Business Success

Established 1967



Twelve days of Christmas [Creativity]| Part one.

12th November 2015 | Ros Taylor

At Ros Taylor Company we are looking forward to a really creative New Year and decided to prepare in advance. Using the 12 days of Christmas- yes we know it’s cheesy- we formulated what we need to do individually and as a company. So here’s our present to you 12 days with 12 steps to becoming more creative and leading edge.

On the 1st day of Christmas….
my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.

This made the team think about what was the overarching ‘pear tree’ thing that would help creativity at work and it is believing you are creative. Take our Creative Style questionnaire – and learn your creative contribution as everyone has something to offer.

For my book Creativity at Work I interviewed 100 people to find out what they thought about creativity and how often they were creative at work. Only 30% claimed to be in any way creative and then mostly by accident, thinking that only artsy people were allowed to call themselves creative. One solicitor said “don’t be stupid I’m a lawyer”

Creativity at work is important as without it companies can’t innovative. Innovation without creativity is rearranging the furniture. And you know what we do when that happens at home we put it back the same as soon as possible!

So call yourself creative right now and you will be.

On the 2nd day of Christmas…
my true love gave to me – Two Turtle Doves…

A turtle dove is according to the RSPB – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds- ‘a dainty dove with a gentle purr’

Ideas need to be treated gently or the people offering them will never offer again. Teresa Amabile professor at Harvard Business School states that ideas are ends in themselves and should be rewarded.

Another view is that there is no such thing as a bad idea just the wrong time for it.

So what are the implications of this? Find a place to store ideas so that they can be reviewed and not forgotten in the maelstrom of working life. Return to them regularly as they might trigger off other useful paths to creativity.

And of course thank all presenters of ideas even if they are unworkable at the moment.

On the 3rd day of Christmas…
my true love gave to me -3 French Hens…

Did you know that French hens are known in shooting circles as Frenchmen and thousands are released to be shot down on estates around the country? Not very politically correct!

Related to the 2nd day of Christmas the 3rd day emphasises that when we are getting together as groups to be creative or to solve problems we must suspend judgement and embrace even the most outlandish thoughts and concepts without shooting them down.

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to put them into practice as you can trim and customise later. But it is often the most outlandish suggestion that helps us to see a situation from another point of view. This customisation I call ‘noodling’. See another day of Christmas for more on these skills.

Of course being non-judgmental has huge implications for company cultures. Is your company non-judgmental? If people are blamed for mistakes then the answer is no. And you can’t really graft this concept on to ideas’ sessions where suddenly everyone must be open and supportive if that doesn’t happen every day.

You can imagine the leader from a punitive company culture saying ‘we are going to brainstorm today and anything goes with no judgement’ being greeted with ‘ that’ll be right!’

Just such a situation happened recently in a large UK construction firm. A group of 50 employees were brought together and told they had been specially selected for an ‘ideas for the future’ session. All ideas were to be respected in this august forum. No one spoke for half an hour. They were the same people who had been declared useless for years by the MD.

So being non-judgemental has to permeate a culture for ideas to be born and breathe.

On the 4th day of Christmas…
my true love sent to me, 4 calling birds….

Wow that’s a lot of birds. I’m making a total bird count of 10: what with a partridge, 2 doves, 3 hens and now 4 calling birds. By the way a ‘calling’ bird is derived from a ‘colly’ bird meaning a black bird.

So birds -mostly cooked, feature prominently in festive celebrations but there is still a lack of ‘birds’ of the featherless variety in boardrooms in the UK. Since women comprise at least 50% of the populace and are major consumers with buying power why wouldn’t you want representation? But there is another compelling reason to increase your board bird count. Diversity increases creativity.

There is huge comfort in surrounding ourselves with ‘people like us’ but that very comfort is ruinous to the creative grit that produces adventurous new ways of doing business. I have known some all male board members who lived in the same village, supported the same football team with their children attending the same school. Profits plummeted and they were bought over.

Cranfield School of Management published some recent research revealing that companies with more women on their boards out performed rivals with a 42% higher return on sales, a 66% return on capital and a 53% return on equity. With women around you get a different perspective and this diversity challenges the staleness of ‘group think’.

Now there are other types of diversity of course: cultural, racial or indeed age. Look no further than co-opting a Generation Y member of staff to the board to get their views on the long term viability of a product or service. They are used to presenting their views and open about sharing them.

Now all of this takes a bit of facilitation not traditional command and control… and a lot of listening. But the results will be worth the short term upheaval.

So bring on these birds..and some lively youth!

Next week: Day five to day eight!

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