Do you want your entire organization to be creative?

Do you want your entire organization to be creative? Here are three lessons from someone who has been doing it for forty years.

  1.  Invest in your core principles for the sake of your employees, your product and your customers. If your company has the word “innovative” or “creative” in its vision or values statement, folks within your organization must be trained in creativity methods, with a budget that reflects those values.
    To benefit from being deliberately creative, train the leadership team first. It is crucial that the top members of the organization are thoroughly trained in creativity methods so they can teach their subordinates and coach the application of creativity skills.
  2.  Stick with it. When you introduce something as unique as deliberate creativity, some members in your organization will hold back and not get involved. After a year or two, your leadership team might look at the program and say, “Well, we’re only getting minimal outcomes. Let’s change to another program.”
    That decision trains your workforce not to participate in company initiatives. It tells obstinate employees that if they don’t participate, new efforts go away because the new initiatives have failed. Training your people to be creative on demand is a long-term investment that will serve your organization long into the future. Follow through and don’t play flavor of the month.
  3. Keep it simple. There are many techniques to help people be deliberately creative. However, my approach has been to use a few creativity techniques that work consistently over time.
    When you are instilling innovation practices in your organization, don’t force people through some lock-step method, or overwhelm them with creativity tools just because they are cool or fun. Your people want to solve problems more effectively, they don’t want to become creative process junkies. 

BONUS: Walk the talk. As a leader, if you believe creativity is important, then you have to be creative. Show your people that it is OK to struggle with crazy ideas and to make mistakes. That it’s OK to fail. Your people will watch your lead, they will follow it, and your organization and its output will be stronger for your willingness to lead by example.

Dr. Roger Firestien has taught more people to lead the creative process than anyone else in the world. Roger is senior faculty at the Center for Applied Imagination at SUNY Buffalo State and president of Innovation Resources, Inc. He has written six books on innovation. His latest book, Create in A Flash:  A leader’s recipe for breakthrough innovation is available through Amazon or at

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