Are you a creative company? If not, would you like to become one? Then you're in the right place at the right time. Because here are the 10 things you should do if you are a small business and want to build a foundation of creativity that will help you grow your company for years to come. 1. Decide why you want to become a more creative company - Every company is different. You may want to become more creative so you can be more competitive. It may be so you can come up with bigger and better ideas. Or, it may simply be because you want to create a more enjoyable place to work. You need to get straight in your own mind your reasons so you can begin fostering it in others. 2. Make a conscious and public decision to become a creative company - In fact, write it down and share it with as many people as possible. Studies show that the more you voice your goals and objectives, the greater the chances are that you'll succeed. And when you write it down, the success rate is even higher. I've been in organizations that have launched "creativity campaigns" by holding a company meeting and announcing their intentions and laying out a game plan for their employees. Others have taken the tact of sending out a simple email, or series of email. Whatever works best - or somewhere in the middle - for you and your company is fine...just make your intentions public. 3. Decide how you will become more creative - In other words, get a game plan. Are you going to hold X number of brainstorming meetings per month? What kind of creativity kudos are you going to give out? How will you keep creativity uppermost in the minds of your employees and the people around you? 4. Inspire the desire - Get everyone around you on board. Creative companies are dynamic and energetic! Who wouldn't want to work in a place like that! There are a lot of ways you can get those around you infected with the creativity bug. One you might try is to hold a contest to see who can come up with the most creative way to become a more creative company. Just think of all the great ideas you'll get! And be sure to reward the winner with something creative - a creative retreat to someplace like Canyon Ranch, a creative time-out at a local spa, a book on creativity (good ones include Blink and Thinkertoys), toys - whatever your budget allows. 5. Reward creativity on an on-going basis - Once you've got people enthused and infused, you need to work on keeping them that way. How about giving a monthly award for the most creative idea? After all, we reward sales...why not creativity! 6. Encourage curiosity and questions - Creative people are curious people. And curious people question. Many companies don't want their employees to question - they want them to keep their heads down and do their jobs. Those companies won't be coming up with any break-though ideas any time soon. Instead, be a company of seekers and solvers. 7. Promote fearless behavior - Fear stifles creativity. Encourage yourself, your managers, and your employees to proceed with courage and conviction. Give them a safety net to fall on if they stumble, and create an environment where mistakes are non-lethal. However, remember there is a difference between fearless behavior and reckless behavior. One is good, the other not so much. 8. Create a creative environment - Which do you think is more conducive to creativity: Row after row of cubicles that all look the same, or office spaces that allow employees to personalize and express themselves? Steer away from sterile, and embrace the eclectic! If you're really serious about building a creative environment, study best-in-class by Google-ing "creative work spaces." 9. Encourage diversity - Have you ever been to a company where everyone kind of looked the same? I know I have...more times than I care to remember. It always gave me the impression that management probably didn't encourage much in the way of creative thinking. If you want your employees to be creative, let people be themselves. Don't make them fit into a mold! 10. Nurture an environment of trust and respect - I envision a world where the company accountant eats lunch with the creative director in an atmosphere of mutual admiration and understanding. A world where there are no knives sticking out of anyone's back. Too much to ask? Maybe, but wouldn't it be grand? The point is, as your company grows, treat all your people with respect and trust, and encourage them to do the same. Without creativity in the workplace, there would be no innovation. Without innovation, there would be no world-changing products, or business-building ideas. And no time like the present for you start to building creativity in the workplace...and start building a business legacy. (c) Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.