Bake Killer Creativity into Your Team

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Years ago, the clever word-of-mouth marketing expert John Moore of Brand Autopsy claimed Starbucks baked marketing into their business model.

Starbucks helped to popularize the “New Marketing” ethos of spending marketing dollars on making better customer experiences and not on making extravagant advertising campaigns.  In essence, Starbucks baked marketing inside its business.  It didn’t have to advertise because everything about the in-store Starbucks experience was the advertising.

I loved that concept ever since I read it 6 about years ago. So, I’m going to “steal” it.

What if you could bake creativity inside your team? If this were possible, what would the ingredients be?

Here are the main ingredients I would include:

  1. Proximity: The Mixing Bowl
    This can be physical proximity or the virtual kind(Skype, telepresence, cloud collaboration software, etc.). Basically, you need to create opportunities for your team to “bump” into each other at opportune times. How can you create serendipitous moments when someone’s seemingly random ramblings spur another’s thoughts into a brilliant mix of sweetness?
  2. Purpose: Fresh Ingredients
    Knowing your purpose isn’t just understanding why you do the work, but it’s knowing why you need fresh ideas… why you need creativity. Have you used previous ideas, or is there a heap of formerly slaughtered suggestions rotting in the boardroom and stinking up the place?
  3. A Protective Environment: An Apron of Grace
    Team members need to know they can provide ideas without getting a sucker punch in return. This isn’t to say that you never judge people’s work or offer negative feedback. This just means people know when you ask for ideas, they have an extra measure of grace. In fact, I served on a creative team where we used an “umbrella of grace.” When a team member had an out-of-the-box idea that may seem crazy, they held their hands together over their head to symbolize the umbrella of grace. Just to keep the baking metaphor, I’m calling it an “Apron of Grace.” Call it what you want.
  4. Promises Kept: Unbroken Eggs
    If people believe you or other teammates will break promises or take advantage of them, they are unlikely to share. Is there a sense that everyone is working toward common goals? A sense of trust is paramount for true creativity. Without it, there won’t be a willingness to open up and be vulnerable. Your team won’t feel free to bring their best to the table for fear that someone else will use it against them.

So, that’s my list of key ingredients to help you bake killer creativity into your team.

How about you? Do you have any secret ingredients that makes creativity even more delicious for you or your team?

Dustin Staiger is a business consultant and speaker in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, communications, creativity and branding for global corporations as well as non-profits and start-ups.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.