Turning individual creativity into a cultural mindset

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Creativity is all the rage in the business world right now, and for good reason — the ability to imagine new ways of doing things (especially with technology) can be a powerfully disruptive tool.

Yet for creativity to be truly effective on a large scale, adopting small-scale, everyday habits is required. (Think: being first to market, higher profits, greater employee productivity, and sustained customer loyalty — that kind of effective.)

As I often tell my clients, small behavior change is the key to success. And in the case of creativity, incorporating a growth mindset into your culture is exactly the small change needed.

Growth mindset is the research-backed belief that “talent” actually comes from hard work and a relentless openness to improvement, which offers organizations a unique way to harness employees’ individual and collective creativity. This is in contrast to a “fixed” mindset, which is the very uncreative belief that people’s talents (or lack thereof) are innate and unchangeable — you either got ‘em or you don’t.

Take workplace communications as an example. Many people mistake that kind of oooh … ahhh … how does she do it? professional communications style as a natural gift that some people just don’t have. But in reality, it’s a skill that can be learned and developed through ongoing practice — making a big difference to your career with even incremental improvement.

A growth mindset also significantly enhances the workplaces where we spend so much of our time, because it flies in the face of the loathsome (and lazy) corporate retort: “That’s how we always do things around here.” Cue the collective groan. Instead, imagine if companies leveraged a growth-mindset culture to creatively navigate the most-challenging situations and conversations that they encounter, resulting in more wins.

Because come on, people! It’s 2018! We invented 280-calorie pints of ice cream, but we can’t figure out how to retain a strong employee who’s relocating two states over? Or to “appropriately” bring your corporate brand to Instagram’s 1 billion monthly users? If your company is throwing up its proverbial hands at the very notion of teleworking, investing in new technologies, letting a junior staffer lead a project, or many other “new” ideas, then you’ll desperately want to get them on the growth-mindset bus — and fast.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

To shake your team out of tired, stale habits, consider ways to move the conversation from “That’s not possible” to “Let’s find out what we need to make this possible.” Rather than, “That didn’t work the one time we tried it,” say, “Let’s try things again a different way.”

Some simple communications changes can help. For example, talk about your company’s growth mindset during the onboarding process, empowering new employees to push themselves further and to be unafraid of limited-scope failures. Challenge your team to complete regular creativity challenges to help them see ordinary things differently.

Then, train your managers to encourage and inspire staff — and themselves — to know that they can always, always be better. Focus on areas of improvement during performance reviews, not just what went wrong. And remember, these tactics can be applied to your top performers and your senior leaders as well as to your interns. A growth mindset is a culture that only works when everyone buys in.

Admittedly, this approach takes a resilience against failure and a tolerance for experimentation. Better doesn’t always mean easier, at least not at first. But by using communications tactics to encourage a growth mindset at every level of your organization, you’re building a dream team of committed, high-achieving individuals who are personally motivated to be successful — for their colleagues, for your clients, and for the company’s bottom line. A fixed mindset is a zero-sum game. In a growth mindset, everyone wins.

For more support in adopting a growth mindset at your organization, reach out to us here.

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