Jon Sharpe - creative culture

Could business success lie in building a creative culture?

Creative culture and explosions of creativity throughout history have changed the world. You can see it over and over again. Around 20 years ago the East End of London spawned grime. Early artists like Dizzee Rascal set the scene for today’s culturally important artists such as Stormzy.

In the 1970s, New York gave us disco, punk, pop art and hip hop. Manchester in the 1980s kicked off Joy Division, New Order and the Hacienda. The 1990s gave us grunge and Brit Pop and on it goes. Of course, it’s not just music that can be looked at in this way. 1920s Paris saw Les Annees Folles (the crazy years) personified by Dali, Picasso and Matisse.

 

A creative culture will spawn great ideas

Periods of self-isolation can often drive creativity. We could be experiencing one such moment right now as we collectively experience the impact of COVID-19. The virus has imposed an unprecedented shut down across the arts, culture and business.

During the Black Death in the early 14th century, Boccaccio spent his quarantine writing The Decameron. This book transformed European literature. In fact, a lot of the extraordinarily prolific European art came out of the plague centuries. Bubonic plague was rife in Europe from around 1300 to the end of the 17th century. This led to regular and repetitive periods of quarantine, which spawned the art.

It’s too early to say whether this year will be seen as a seminal year for art and culture thanks to COVID-19. It is clear that key times in history evoke new movements in art and design. And the same can be said for technology and business.

 

Creativity should come first and drive processes

 The UK is a world recognised tech hub. Manchester and London are leading the way with emerging tech, such as AI, fintech and regtech. The UK also has a dynamic and diverse media sector. And for every business across every sector, creativity is key. It is a source of competitive advantage.

Tech and innovation can be replicated, but an initial spark of creativity is needed to disrupt industries. It’s the unique ideas that create growth, not efficiency. And it’s ideas that create new markets and create success.

Bigger corporations struggle to maintain creativity, as hierarchical politics often get in the way. It’s common for creative ideas to die a death before they even reach decision makers. Which is why we do it differently at LuxDeco. Creativity drives our processes. We create an environment where everyone feels safe to be creative. This encourages the truly big ideas.

Working small is the ideal way to drive creativity. Meetings with too many people squash ideas, and don’t allow creative thinking to survive. The finest work comes from groups of three or four people, and companies should allow these kinds of meetings in order to foster creative ideas.

 

Encourage interaction and an easy flow of ideas

Creative decision-making means leaving egos behind. Hierarchies can stifle creative debate. Flatter structures can ensure you don’t miss any possible idea that could be a winner. Stamping out too many sign offs can also ensure an idea is free to develop.

Welcoming the mavericks and those considered eccentric is always a benefit for an office looking for creativity. If you only hire one type of person, you’ll only get one outcome. An eclectic mix of personalities and styles will spark diverse opinions. These will be the catalyst for  change.

Fostering mutual appreciation within the workforce is also important. Open communication and sharing successes will strengthen creativity. Encourage people to talk about their own ideas without fear. This will generate a chain of unexpected thoughts. Allowing creativity to drive work processes can be tricky to accept, particularly in more traditional settings. It can however, be the most important part of nurturing a team, and will allow a business to thrive.