Join Nancy Napier for an in-depth discussion in this video Six creative disciplines that drive high-performing organizations, part of Building Creative Organizations.
A long time ago, I asked a simple question. What do organizations that are both high performers and try to incorporate creativity have in common, if anything? When I investigated very different organizations. From public sector to private, from the arts to business, I was astounded to find out how much they do have in common. Let's look at Apple as an example. It's had its ups and downs to be sure, but on the whole, it's done very well over the years, in terms of company performance and in being creative.
So why is that? It hires tremendously talented people. It epitomizes the idea of blending art and technology, and it has a process to come up with new ideas. It also has had a visionary leader and executive group, brilliant physical infrastructure, and a powerful culture. I like to think of these elements as the six disciplines of creativity. First, mastery and deep discipline expertise in employees.
This means, hire the best people you can to get that discipline or expertise. By hiring the best, they are more likely to be the best. Second, the ability to reach outside of a discipline or field for ideas. This means thinking beyond your field, creative high performing firms look for ideas beyond their fields. Apple looks to art and design, not just at the functionality of their technology. Third a discipline process to create new products or services, think of this as having a system to generate new ideas.
Most creative high performing organizations use a similar process and then it becomes a routine. Fourth, entrepreneurial and creative leaders who are disciplined in creating and executing a vision. This means, making sure you have your leadership roles covered. Someone who's great at setting a vision, and someone, that may be the same someone, whose really good at execution. If it's not the same person, then be aware you'll need to find people to play those roles.
Fifth, a discipline of place, and space that encourages interaction and creativity. There's lots of research for the idea that spaces and design can support creativity and high performance. Be aware what can work for your firm. Sixth and last, a strong culture, that supports creativity and innovation. The way that you encourage or discourage creativity in your organization is hugely important, and sometimes it can be very subtle.
Ideas are like seedlings. They can be squelched far too easily, and once they're gone, people may quickly decide that it's too risky to offer up more. Remember that the disciplines aren't linear. They don't have to be tackled in any order, and they may change over time. Just as Apple is readjusting to being without Steve Jobs, that may change some of the ways the culture works with the process the company uses. The key is that the six disciplines work together to allow for more time and inspiration, for creative thinking and problem solving.
You can find a copy of the Six disciplines chart in the exercise files. Now, go through the list and think about which of the disciplines your organization does well.