We had a very long and very interesting conversation with Frank van Massenhove, chairman at the FOD Social Security, about the importance of business creativity. How to build a creative organisation and how important new ways of working are for its succes. Frank's enthusiasm about this theme is so much bigger than the space we have foreseen for this blog, but we will try to summarize some of his ideas on creativity in organisations.
Make people happy or you will cease to exist
For being creative it is essential that people can free up their minds. That you can achieve when you have employees deciding themselves when and where they work.
We hope that you will be more creative within your job when you can spend more time on your non work related interests and thus gather new experiences and perspectives. We, for example, ask our employees to have a secondary job. What is important is that people generate new ideas because they start tackling new things in a different way.
Create an organisation filled with drivers
Create an environment in which people are in the driver seat of their own work. If people can arrange their work themselves and are trusted to work according to their own insights, they will be far more motivated and take that initiative that leads to more creativity and innovation.
"Diplomas are not the most important things to decide if someone is able to handle that job, competencies are at least that important."
Choose talent, not diplomas
Diplomas are not the most important things to decide if someone is able to handle that job, competencies are at least that important. Age is not relevant either. A mix of old and young is even crucial to have a balance between stability and renewal. Young people bring new dynamics and fresh ideas to your organisation. And older staff can, because of their experience, find the necessary creative links.
Don’t go to jail with an ankle bracelet
The new way of working means that you decide yourself when and where you work. It is not like you work from home from 9 to 5, as some people might think. That is not the environment that will boost creativity. That is just swapping office-prison for an electronic ankle bracelet…
"Allow people to try, otherwise you will never generate creativity."
Blame the boss
To get and keep that creativity it is necessary that people can freely go for it and not get blamed when they fail. That is why we allow people to experiment. If they have an idea or want to do something differently, they just can. And we then have a clear agreement: if you succeed, we will tell you that you did a great job and if it fails, we will just say that the boss took a wrong decision. Otherwise you will never generate creativity.
Find crazy people
You can have a very open culture in your organisation but that one limitation remains: you are the boss. Therefore there will always be that hurdle to complete openness: ‘Can I really say that’? So you have to create a system that will allow your employees to share ideas and thoughts without the necessity to tell the boss.
You do that by bringing in even crazier people than yourself, whom I call ‘absurdians’. Most of the time they are younger people, not that high in the hierarchy but with a lot of fresh ideas and very interested in what happens in- and outside the organisation. And those who have a secondary job also often come up with new and useful ideas.
"Coming up with solutions to handle the work in an entire different way is my definition of creativity."
Take the evil away
Typically danger arises from the fact that people tend to do far too many things. That is also the responsibility of the manager: to help employees to get rid of their ‘darlings’. It is not evident to say that something has failed, but we have experienced that it has made us stronger because we then go and look for alternatives or reasons why it has failed and only that way we learn and refine.
Your people deserve ideas
Starting with creativity always means change and that does not come automatically just by deciding to become creative. First management and the target group need to be convinced that it is necessary to change, but in fact all employees in your organisations need to be willing to do so. You can only change if you ask your employees how. So allow your staff to come up with their ideas.
Time and quitness are the new money
Our new way of working creates not only extra time but also moments of silence for our employees. They can work together or alone. In the office if they want to meet people or at home if they want to finish some tasks or want to give it a thought. You deliberately have to search for that silence to make room for creativity.