Want an innovative culture? Understand your own creative capacity to lead
By Suzanne Steele
Posted on 09-16-2020
In a world of proliferating change, creativity is needed more than ever. As Pixar president Ed Catmull described the imperative in his 2009 book Creativity, Inc., “We must meet the unexpected problems with unexpected responses.”
As technology accelerates and advances, human attributes like creativity and imagination can help businesses discover new value and navigate uncertainty. When people across departments and job titles actively pursue and identify new problems and opportunities, they can innovate approaches and use tools in unexpected ways to unlock new ideas, products, and solutions.
Our conversations with executive leaders show they understand the benefits of creativity for their organisations, customers, and teams. But few know how to unlock their collective creative potential.
I think there are two key reasons for this. First, many work environments don’t foster a culture where teams can apply their creativity to their daily work. They aren’t given permission to be bold, to take risks, to fail.
Second, some organisations fear diverging from the status quo, choosing instead to rely on set processes that minimise risk and deliver known results. As research by McKinsey tells us, even the boldest of companies “have trouble freeing themselves from mindsets that take root in operational silos.” This assumption that what has worked in the past will continue to be effective doesn’t hold up in the unprecedented circumstances we’re in today.
Understand your creative potential
Seeking to understand my own creative capabilities, and those across my team, I took the Adobe Creativity Quotient (CQ) assessment.
Previously, the only way I could measure my own creative potential and effectiveness was by seeking regular feedback from my peers, colleagues, and mentors. And I’ve never considered myself a “creative” – even though I recognise my unique experiences and personality fundamentally influence how I lead. As such, I was intrigued to discover my creative persona with its areas of greatest strength and improvement.
The CQ test assesses creative leadership across five areas: culture, skills, technology, data, and experience.
The Adobe CQ assessment determined I was “The Leader” – an individual who is carving new creative possibilities through skills and tools both within and beyond my team and into the work culture.
I think my results perfectly capture how leaders operate across Adobe. We have learned that our teams need to be smaller, agile, and cross-functional. Our teams need more autonomy to make decisions, and we need to give them tools to collaborate and communicate better, and that inspire more creative results.
Interestingly, the Adobe CQ assessment recommended I “check out more tools” that could increase efficiency and creativity through online collaboration and design-thinking. This advice couldn’t be more pertinent as I look for new ways to connect with my team members working remotely across different locations, time zones, and countries.
I need tools that create ongoing feedback loops, daily meetings, and activity-based training for my team. We’re using Slack, Microsoft Teams, employee engagement platform Culture Amp, video calls, and good old telephone interaction to connect with one another.
However, I’ve also noticed that these platforms can create a tendency to be “always-on” and, if not managed, can easily become a productivity drain. It’s important to regularly assess your team’s communication and collaboration needs and how digital tools can meet these objectives in order to drive new sources of value.
Leaders, understand your creative capacity to lead
The Adobe CQ assessment highlights how culture is the fuel for creativity. Your team’s work environment – including management practices, hierarchies, and the work itself – can create obstacles to their creative capabilities. If leaders today have a better understanding of their own creative potential, they can manage their “blind spots” and nurture a team culture that values the innovative, explosive power of creativity – even in this increasingly mobile-working world.
Topics: Leadership, Creativity, Creative Cloud, APAC