With a little creativity, the status quo is a thing of the past

How does your organization view creativity? Is it a risky use of your time or a necessary component of your business?

In a world where CEOs demand that one-fifth of revenues must come from new sources, creativity is essential to producing new ideas that challenge traditional beliefs.

According to a 2012 IBM survey of more than 1,700 chief executives, the majority of CEOs interviewed identify creativity as the most important attribute of a successful business. “Creativity” in this context means challenging assumptions to develop innovative approaches to disrupting an organization’s products, processes or business model.

A creative leader will recognize the risk in trying new things, but they do not fear failure - they learn from it. When leaders create an environment where failure is accepted, small-scale mistakes can turn into lessons that help set strategy for innovation.

These leaders also expose the creative visions of employees and in doing so encourage others to contribute ideas.

“Creative leadership involves not only leaders generating their own ideas but also creating an environment where other people’s ideas come to the fore,” says David Horth, senior fellow at The Center for Creative Leadership.

All the creativity in the world does little good in a business setting if it’s not going to provide some value. One way to tie experimental learning to real business objectives is through innovation Challenges, a form of idea gathering in which a business leader outlines a business issue and asks for ideas that help solve it. These brainstorming and idea-gathering sessions give employees a space to share ideas and build a community with a creative vision that disrupts the status quo.

“The essence of creative leadership is assumption — the ability to be aware of the kind of assumptions that you have, to challenge your assumptions, and to invent new assumptions,” says Pierre Casee, leadership chair at The International Economic Development Council.

Creative leaders actively work to uncover the collective capabilities of their employees and help channel their creative ideas into meaningful innovations – revealing new opportunities, new breakthrough, new markets, and solutions to an organization’s most vexing problems.

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