Short answer: yes. Creativity is innovation. And let’s face it: if you’re not innovating in digital transformation, you’re dying. We all know what innovation in high-tech looks like. But what about IT teams specifically? Should we be getting out our crayons and coloring books to let our employees unleash their inner child? Or, is there a better way?
To be honest, building creative IT teams isn’t a one-and-done thing and one single approach won’t work for every team member. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do right now to start making your IT teams think more creatively. And many of them won’t cost anything but time and encouragement.
Building Creative IT Teams: Allow for Headspace
One of the best ways to kill creativity? Overload people with demands and deadlines. We all know this intrinsically. We all know that our best ideas never come when our kids are screaming at us while are making dinner and sitting on a conference call simultaneously. No, ideas need room to start growing. They need open-ended time. That’s why the best of them come when we’re on a walk or in the shower—time when we can let our brains wander and explore a bit further afield. That’s why it’s essential to either build that type of time into your workday or ensure that you create the type of work culture that runs on imagination rather than stress and chaos. Yes, it seems counterintuitive to give people time to slow down. But that’s often just what they need to think of ways to make your department and its processes more efficient.
Building Creative IT Teams: Automate Whenever Possible
The best way to create headspace? Automate. Take stock of every mind-numbing task you can and find a way to remove them from your team’s to-do lists. Use that time instead to think of new and better ways to work.
Building Creative IT Teams: Encourage Questioning
Yes, some people can be contrary just for the sake of it. But most of the time, when people question authority, it’s for good reason. They can see the problem or process from another angle. They have insight to add to the situation that can either fix it or eliminate the problem altogether. That’s why it’s essential to create a culture where it’s OK to question leadership—to go beyond “the way it’s always been done” and welcome people who think they can do it better. In fact, some say culture is the foundation for innovation. Without questioning, your company will remain exactly where it has always been. And in digital transformation, that’s a losing proposition.
Building Creative IT Teams: Dedicate a Day
Maybe it’s one day a month devoted to a hackathon event. Maybe it’s one day a month dedicated to a team retreat or culture-building event. But taking a day away from the office goes a long way toward building the type of headspace where innovation can be planted and eventually flourish. Yes, you’ll be spending money in lost productivity. But when your teams are lost in the doldrums, they’re not working very productively anyway.
Building Creative IT Teams: Actively Seek Hidden Talents—and Grow Them
What do you know about your teammates, really? What are their unique perspectives, based on the places they’ve worked or lived? What are the personality quirks that allow them to see things just a tiny bit differently from their colleagues? Find out, and then actively grow and engage them, be it through training or simply adding them to a team they’ve never had the chance to work on. New voices, new perspectives, new ways of seeing old problems—that’s what creativity and innovation are all about.
Honestly, these tips don’t just apply to IT. They could be applied to any department struggling with innovation in digital transformation today, and they in fact should be applied to all companies in general! Amazon, for instance, embraces the concept of making mistakes and investing in employee creativity via classes and even its own symphony enterprise-wide. The most important thing is to make room for new ways of thinking, seeing, and moving so that you never get so comfortable and bogged down in where you are that your company can’t move to where you want it to be.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.