Any time you produce something new you are putting yourself and your reputation on the line.
The creative qualities needed to craft beautiful works of art are no different than the ones needed build a business. It all starts with taking risks and finding new ways to disrupt old ways of thinking.
At our company Porch.com, we have put creativity front and center for all our disciplines. To do it better than it has ever been done before, you need to rely on our ingenuity and resourcefulness to push the boundaries.
Below are five tactics we've used to foster creativity amongst our teams.
1. Start with creativity at your core
I believe that to be truly creative, you have to be intentional. For example, you can't rely on accidental epiphanies to drive your product development, but instead establish an ecosystem that supports your desired approach at a fundamental level. The trick is building an environment that encourages thinking outside of the box, but also values the balance of deadlines, budgets, and action.
2. Find inspiration from your customers
Henry Ford famously said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." Though customers might not always know exactly what they want, entrepreneurs can find tremendous inspiration to be creative through customer interaction. Find out how they are currently handling issues your business could potentially make better. By hearing from them directly, you can get to the core of what they really need to solve the problem in a way that hasn't been created yet. It is remarkable to me how often talking to customers is missed in other startups. I deeply believe that interacting with and selling to customers sparks all kinds of ideas and paths that wouldn't ever be discovered otherwise.
3. Establish hard priorities, then open the creative floodgates
As a leader, it's your job to steer the ship. Your employees and teammates look to you to set priorities and approve decisions for the course of the business. It's up to you set a clear vision, objectives and timelines, and stick to them. But once those parameters are set, it's time to let your team run wild so they creatively reach those goals and objectives. Allow for new ways of thinking to take place and open up new paths of collaboration. When you are digging into the details with the team, establish whether you are a brainstorming partner or the boss (be the partner as much as you can, simply working together to solve problems).
4. Get different people together
One way to get yourself or your team out of a creative rut is to get lots of different people interacting. When you change the inputs, you will receive different outputs. Getting people with different perspectives can shed new light on old problems. This doesn't mean to create more cross-team functions or organize more meetings. Instead, setup the DNA of your company to allow for this to happen naturally. Implement an open office plan, have your engineers, designers, and product teams use desks with wheels, and require that teams are switched up with people moving every 3-6 months.
5. Remember that if you fail, always fail from a place of action
There are many companies out there that failed at their original idea, only to have great success after learning from their mistakes and pivoting. By failing through taking action, you rarely fail completely. You also can't put a value on the experience you get from simply trying something and evaluating the results and performance, no matter what the outcome. Always demand execution from teams when it comes to taking action on new ideas and let the results speak for themselves. Go fast--there is no other speed in startup-land.