My key takeaway from this book was not the process and exercises that were presented to help generate creative solutions to problems. Instead it was a point that was brought up many times in many different ways. As managers and leaders we play a very large part in fostering a creative environment. Our attitudes and biases can enhance the creative process, or they can completely stymie it. A command and control manager rarely leads a creative team. That leads to only one person’s ideas driving the team’s results. Managers who lead creative teams engage the hearts and minds of their employees to solve the biggest business problems. You have to step back and acknowledge that you are not always the expert, but that the members of your team are. That is why you hired them and why they remain part of your team.
This book builds upon previous work by Goran Ekvall and Scott Isaksen describing the dimensions of the climate for innovation. In order they are (with 1-6 being the most important overall in studies):
- Challenge and involvement
- Trust and openness
- Risk taking
- Idea time
- Idea support
- Debates on the issues
- Interpersonal conflict (negatively correlated)
- Playfulness and humor
- Value for diversity of problem-solving style
Are your employees challenged by their work and emotionally engaged in it? Do you promote an environment of trust and openness that facilitates risk taking and freedom of opinion and action? Does your team trust you enough to admit their mistakes early or to ask for help? If so, you are well on your way to fostering a creative environment.