As a professional society, we tend to separate people into two buckets: "creatives" and "non-creatives." The sentiment behind this designation is almost Harry Potterish - like the "creatives" are the wizards and the "non-creatives" are the non-magical muggles.
I do not subscribe to this thinking.
I happen to have a traditionally "creative" job, which dictates that I must come up with stories, dream up strategies, design materials, and oversee a team of other "creatives." Some of the folks in my world believe their artistic process couldn't possibly be understood by, oh, someone who codes or writes software for a living. I'm telling you right now, that's a crock.
Over the years, I've had the enlightening opportunity to work with data scientists, engineers, and other tech developers and found that their processes are just as imaginative (and strikingly similar!) to traditional creatives. In fact, some of the most artistic people I know have been tech professionals!
Creativity extends itself to anyone who cares deeply about the work that they do. For example, I know a housekeeper that mixes her own organic cleaning supplies, makes over rooms to be more efficient and feng shui for their inhabitants, and decorates bedrooms according to who her clients are inviting as guests. That's an artist.
Acknowledging and respecting other kinds of artists in the world can have a tremendous impact on your success. Just look at some of the largest and most recognized companies in the world. Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Cisco and Johnson & Johnson. What do they have in common, apart from being billion-dollar concerns?
They're consistently among America's most diverse and inclusive companies. Recognizing the creative genius of others, it seems, makes good business sense as well. Here are a few ways you can weave this practice into your company.
Diversity is the lifeblood of a team
Recognizing the value of a diverse team and that creativity can come from every single member in any area is key to a company's success. From pushing for more women in leadership, to establishing policies for LGBT employees and mentorship programs, the most successful companies understand the value of drawing from diverse sources. They also need teams that incorporate developers, designers, "creatives," financial personal, and so on.
But diversity isn't just about race and gender, or even sexual orientation or disabilities. It can apply to hiring people you wouldn't usually as well. Different personality types and thinking styles can help your company break out of its creative rut and shake up the status quo. It's not just about having diversity on paper for impressive PR; it's about actually harnessing that diversity to produce better products and services.
And diversity can apply to your suppliers as well. Another of the world's most diverse companies, Ford, ensures to keep a balance of suppliers for manufacturing its cars. Carla Preston of Ford Motor Company was named as a leading figure by the National Minority Supplier Development Council in 2014. The company, under her efforts, added 16 new suppliers to its network and allocated $1.08 billion of new business to diverse suppliers.
Sharing the success
You may have a brand-new team of bright-eyed employees that look good on paper, but are they delivering the results you expected? Mentoring is a great way of expanding on the success of your team and fostering creative genius in others. You just need to make use of existing company resources to help develop future leaders and teach new skills.
Some of the brightest minds in the business world received help from mentors, including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Many entrepreneurs fail to recognize that success is not a one-person show, or see mentorship as some kind of weakness. But when you're open to listening to the views of others, and imparting your own advice as well, your company can go from strength to strength. Whether that's better decorated office spaces, or a systems network that looks like it's been sculpted by Michelangelo.
Staying humble and open to new ideas
According to Harvard Business Review, the best leaders are humble leaders. That means by default recognizing that their views are not the only ones, nor necessarily the best. Leaders who are open to new ideas and thinking, who understand that embracing uncertainty can pay dividends, and who recognize creative genius in others are the ones that propel their companies forward.
They challenge their employees to think deeper, to speak up and to contribute ideas. A company whose team is always reaching for more is one that can step up to technical changes and evolving markets. Continued learning is one of the key traits of the greatest leaders, and they instill that in their employees as well. After all, if you aren't constantly learning, then you're slowly becoming irrelevant and distancing yourself from your market.
So, before you're quick to dismiss a job applicant for how they look on paper, or exclude an employee from strategy talks because of their position, remember to keep an open mind. Recognizing the creative genius of others may just be the best thing you can do to secure your company's growth.