In a survey by IBM CEO’s considered creativity to be one of the most important factors to success. Yet turn around and ask anyone in your office if they’re creative (outside of the creative department of course) and ask them are you creative. Yeah you know it. They’ll say no, as most of us do.

I love to say this but we’re all wrong. We all think of the arts when we talk creativity. It either lays in design that is tangible or its something we do when we’re a genius locked away in a room by ourselves, but both couldn’t be further from the truth.

So how do we unlock our creativity? Creativity relies on a depth of understanding of a problem that doesn’t come without a personal connection or experience. This is what evokes inspiration in us. If we are trying to solve the problems of our customers we need to connect with them. We need to experience the problem or connect with them to understand their perspective.

Why do you think startups have the ability to be disruptive over the big conglomerates? Its because their story comes from experiencing the frustration or pain of a problem and they become so focused on fixing it that it becomes a passion and purpose onto itself. They understand the problem intimately.

It doesn’t stop there the creative thinkers of our time experience something, get inspired by an idea and then analyse it from different perspectives to pull it apart to see if their idea is viable.

And here lies the journey to creativity. It doesn’t lie in your ability to pick up a paint brush or design some creative copy. It starts with ideas. That’s right ideas. Now correct me if I’m wrong but I’m betting you have had a few ideas of your own lately right? Then in that case you my friend have the capacity to label yourself as creative so let’s look at 6 reasons why organisations need creativity.

But first let’s hit the gym. ???

1. Increased workplace problem solving

“Creativity is like a muscle”. David Kelley form IDEO and Author of Creative Confidence said it and it’s true.

Imagine the first time you walk into a gym. You’re not sure what some of the equipment does, if you’re dressed right what stretches to do. It’s all feeling a bit foreign.

Then skip forward to when you’ve been going 4 times a week for a year. What is it feeling like now? You go straight to your routine warm up stretch and get to business. Heck you might even have a bit of a swagger as you walk through those doors and flick a few index fingers towards to Tom, Dick and Lucy. And so you should you’ve earnt the right to be there.

Creativity is the same. It feels totally foreign at first. It feels clunky, hard and uncomfortable but the more we look for any opportunity to pause and look at things differently it gets easier. Give yourself permission to suck at brainstorming then reflect and think about how the next session can be done better.

Start small. At the beginning of every meeting bring an idea to work on for 5 mins. Give your team permission to flex their creative muscles.

How many times do we tell ourselves I’m not the creative type? I’ve said it myself, many times. We link it to being able to draw or paint, but creativity isn’t just about tangible design. It’s simply about creation. Business models, customer experiences, processes. I mean we’ve all heard creative accounting. Creativity is within all of us.

Allowing teams, the time to collaborate and think differently helps them to work out how to solve problems. Our minds naturally want to solve problems so give them the time to do it.

2. Spend more time doing the work that matters by prioritising

Creativity allows time for perspective. It helps everyone identify the key elements to our organisation that are going to make a difference whether it’s in the long term or the short term. By having perspective this allow us to understand the bigger picture and where our time is best spent. Is it completing a to-do list, getting your inbox down to zero unread or is it doing something today that will make a difference to someone tomorrow?

3. Better teamwork and team bonding

I always hear this catch cry that everyone loves a brainstorming session. But why? Is it because we walk out thinking we’ve solved the world’s problems or was it feeding our need to collaborate, communicate and connect?

Organisations often believe that in order to improve workplace culture we need a team bonding event or more social club catch ups. These are quick fixes and unsustainable ones. Instead focus on how your team can work together more effectively and connect on a level that allows them to be open and transparent. Teams unite over a common problem. We may have different perspectives but when we work on finding a solution to a problem together, we can have healthy and higher-level discussions that unite us and give us interactive moments of meaning.

4. Increased team engagement and interaction

The next time you play scrabble have someone stand behind you and tell you what each word will be that you can put down. The only way you can play the game is if the individual behind you tells you what to play. Thinking for yourself is not permitted. Sound like a fun game?

Of course not. Why would we ever play a game like that?

Yet in the workplace this happens all the time. Whether it’s a CEO, middle manager or micro manager we think it’s acceptable to hand down the solutions with the focus on a deadline. It’s a do this by then not a we need to do this because……

We become driven by to do lists and tactics with no time to refocus. We’re driven by order for our hands, but not enough time is spent on engaging our minds and our hearts. Our minds are constantly seeking to solve problems and if we link that to our purpose or our hearts then we are more engaged at work. If we are more engaged at work, we are more likely to proactively seek out healthy interactions. As teams we work together more effectively because we are all playing a part towards a bigger picture.

If engagement and interaction are high people will seek more problems to solve. The less problems that exist in an organisation the more productive it is and the better results it can deliver.

5. Improved ability to attract and retain quality employees

I like to call this the happy kids in the playground affect. If you have a bunch of kids playing in one particular section of a playground you can bet that new kids entering are attracted to the area of the playground. There’s more fun, more laughter coming from that section so something great must be happening.

We run to what looks fun ;o) Even as adults!

It’s the same with a flourishing culture. When people are happy at work, word spreads.

6. Drives the desire to learn and be curious

In keeping with the theme of children they have a natural ability to be innovators as opposed to us more conditioned and seasoned adults. It all lies in their ability to ask why? Asking why repeatedly can lead us to a path to the ‘Aha’ moment. They become hard to attain as we get older and there is only one reason for that, and this is because we become programmed to act on assumptions. We become conscious of the judgment of others, so we don’t ask too many questions. If we do, we’re worried we’ll be seen as that co-worker without a clue but true innovation stems from a curious mind.

We spend so much time delivering a knee jerk reaction to problem solving that we end up doing a band aid fix more often and not and that is because we lack the root cause understanding.

Innovation is our driving buzz word, yet we spend more time in the tinkering and polishing phase that all that work is meaningless if we haven’t understood the root cause of the problem.

If you don’t know the root cause to a problem, you are trying to fix a headache with a band aid. Organisations who spend more time in the upfront stages of innovation are the ones more likely to get it right. This involves more time in discovery, more time defining the problem and more time in the creative brainstorming phase.

The best leaders of our time are continuous learners they adapt a beginner’s mindset and allow their creative mind to flow.

How UberEats continue to innovate with Design Thinking.

In 2014 infamous ride share company Uber launched into the food delivery industry. The online food ordering and delivery platform UberEats was born and it brought the late night lamb sandwich into question. Now there was a better option that met a need that crossed demographics and geographies. Based in San Francisco UberEats now delivers from restaurants in over 80 cities around the world making in to Perth in 2016.

Why are we talking about food delivery? Well there’s many success stories out there about innovative companies causing disruption. Each one has something we can learn from. What may seem to be overnight success stories are instead ideas that have been formed, research and tested over years. In this Innovation Series by Liv By Design we want to explore what are some of the simple methods that have been used so that we can adapt some learnings and create our own success stories. 

UberEats hits Perth

Here’s some fun facts that were published by WA Today following the arrival of UberEats to Perth and gives a sneak peak of the impact it had.

  • Hungriest time of the week in Perth is on Fridays at 6pm (No suprise there really!)
  • The first ever UberEATS order in Perth was a cheeseburger royale and steak cut chips ­from Jus Burgers in Leederville
  • The total distance travelled by the top delivery partner was 5,440 trips = 13,725 km. That’s Perth to Melbourne and back, twice!
  • The most ordered Indian dish in Perth is butter chicken ­- enough to fill 8.3 swimming pools.

Better results through real market research

Shall we call it Market Realsearch?  

Realising that they can’t possibly understand the intricacies and infrastructure of every city from their offices in San Fransciso they created The Walkabout Program“. We’ll talk about this is more detail but this is what is termed immersion in design thinking

“Every quarter, designers visit an UberEATS city and dive deeply into that market. They learn the city’s food culture. They study the transportation and logistical infrastructures. They interview delivery partners, restaurant workers, and consumers. They eat and eat and eat. Upon return, they share their learnings with the entire team. Each visit helps build a comprehensive understanding of our different markets and customers.” 

They also “Overshadow” another form of immersion where they follow the live deliveries as well as sit in peoples homes to when they are ordering their meal. “Watching our products in the wild helps us better understand the needs of our customers, how well our designs address those needs, and what challenges exist in the real world”.  

The power of a testimonial!

UberEats also actively seek out feedback from delivery partners, restaurants and consumers to try and fill any gaps that might come from the above initiatives. This then gives them powerful insights to dissect and discuss new opportunities. 

This is done via Innovation workshops.  

When they need to develop ideas they form a cross functional team to “generate insights and inspiration, then run creative exercises to generate a range of ideas. These structured brainstorms shake up the mindset of the team, push our creativity, and spawn innovative ideas like pooled deliveries and ‘virtual’ restaurants only available on UberEats.” 

“If you’re trying to design for the future, don’t design for behaviors that are happening now. Design for behaviors that are emerging, that are going to be new behaviors.” 

Lynda Deakin, Managing Director of IDEO’s Design for Food studio 

Dispruption

Why didn’t UberEats just get the insights from big data and deep dive research, surveys and mass market campaigns? None of these methods allow for the insights that are gained from more intimate personal research and if we are talking about true disruption then you won’t have any like products to compare to and certainly no past trends to predict from. 

If we are talking about emerging behaviours then its highly likely that if you’re waiting on industry stats and data to guide your way… then you’re too late. 

UberEats has made innovation and design thinking methods part of their DNA like many other success stories. They realise the power in remaining close to and having empathy for all the parties they serve. From the in-home diner, to the delivery partner to the restaurateur.  

Before you spend thousands on qualitative and quantitative surveys, reports and industry data how about considering a new method. Consider how you or your team can truly gain exposure through immersion in your market or look at external support who can guide you on how to do this and even provide a new point of view to old problems.  

This article is by Olivia O’Connor, Founder of Liv By Design a business solutions company. Liv By Design is dedicated to helping business owners grow their business and start strategically planning their initiatives by harnessing the creativity of their workforce through facilitated workshops.

We also help organisations gather true research of their clients by offering consultancy services in immersion techniques to gather insight that could transform your organsiation.