Enhancing Organizational Creativity

Creativity doesn’t just happen in organizations; entrepreneurs must establish an environment in which creativity can flourish—for themselves and for their workers. “Everyone has a creative spark, but many factors can inhibit its ignition,” says one writer. “Part of an [entrepreneur’s] role is to see the spark in his or her people, encourage its ignition, and champion its success.”New ideas are fragile creations, but the right company culture can encourage people to develop and cultivate them.


Innovative companies do not take a passive approach to creativity; they are proactive in their search for new ideas. One of the best ways to set a creative tone throughout an organization begins with the company’s mission state- ment. Entrepreneurs should incorporate creativity and innovation into their companies’ mis- sion statements and affirm their commitment to them in internal communications.


Research published in the Sloan Management Review concludes that the most effective way for companies to achieve continuous innovation over the long term is by hir- ing and cultivating talented people. Often the most creative people also tend to be somewhat different, even eccentric. Two researchers call these employees “the odd clever people every organization needs” because they use their creativity to create disproportionate amounts of value for their companies.


At innovative companies, managers create organizational structures and cul- tures that emphasize the importance of creativity. Managers at Dunkin’ Donuts, with 9,235 coffee and donut outlets worldwide, recognize that innovation is the key to the 60-year-old company’s success. A few years ago, they created the Dunkin’ Brands Innovation Team, a group of 18 bakery specialists, and assigned them the task of developing new products for the company’s menu. Although many product ideas never make it out of the test kitchen, the Innovation Team launches about 20 new product ideas each year. One of its most successful additions was the bagel twist, which took the team 10 months to perfect and comes in a vari- ety of flavors.


One of the best ways to cultivate a culture of creativity is to hire a diverse workforce. When people solve problems or come up with ideas, they do so within the framework of their own experience. Hiring people from different backgrounds, cultural experiences, hobbies, and interests provides a company with crucial raw materials needed for creativity. Smart entrepreneurs enhance organizational creativity by hiring beyond their own comfort zones.