We all sit through meetings, as boring and useless as they sometimes may feel. And let me ask you this - how many times have you heard people say your team or company should be “breaking the mould” or “thinking out of the box”? How many times have you discussed the inspiring thing your competitors are doing, that you and your team would never even try? Probably too many times.
Increasingly, researchers and thought leaders are pointing out that company culture could be the issue behind idea blocks and lack of creative thinking within companies - from the smallest startups to government administrations. Company culture is a double-edged blade: a positive and creative culture will encourage employees to bring all of their skills to the office environment, including their creativity. Think about Google’s famous company culture and its “20% projects” policy. Googlers were (and by some accounts, still are) actively encouraged by management to develop their own products and services during up to 20% of their working hours. Some of these projects were then taken up by the company, leading to the development of products like Gmail and Adsense which have become services adopted by millions of users. Typically, when we think of negative work culture, we conjure images of older, larger companies or government agencies that slow down or outright drown any innovation through heavy and unwieldy administrative procedure, creativity-crushing hierarchy or over-complicated internal regulations. How do these organisations try to escape their company culture? By creating spin-offs, acquiring smaller companies or working with consultants or partners in order to spur innovation and creative thinking.
However most companies and organisations have access to a large and often eager group of collaborators: their users, clients and fans! The spread of co-creation, collaborative design platforms and open-source software is increasingly helping companies and organisations develop new and effective solutions to their clients’ problems. Thanks to the web, customer input has never been as readily available - which enables companies to “think out of the box” and bring in truly fresh ideas to develop. All the better, studies and some inspiring businesses are increasingly showing us that a collaborative customer more often than not makes a great brand ambassador.
So get out of that meeting, collaborate with your clients and fans, escape your company culture and co-create something amazing.