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Here’s why so many companies struggle with innovation

September 16, 2015

Kim Getty, president of Deutsch LAKim Getty, president of Deutsch LA
Kim Getty, president of Deutsch LACourtesy of Deutsch

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization? is written by Kim Getty, president of Deutsch LA.

The pace of innovation and technology means that creativity is crucial for all modern businesses. For some industries, this is uncharted territory, leaving them scrambling to re-write the rules. But success in advertising has always been about the value of applied creativity; it’s the lifeblood of our industry. Here at Deutsch, bringing innovative ideas to our clients is table stakes. What makes our culture special (and fun) is our drive to nurture and encourage creativity in all of our teams, both in and out of the office. Here are a few ways to do this at your company, too:

Set a creative mission
Our mission at Deutsch is to create original and sharable work. It’s a benchmark for our efforts. Establishing your creative mission and then socializing that mission throughout the company affirms your commitment and keeps it top of mind as teams get swept up in other tasks. It helps staffers understand what ideas and innovations best align with the company’s goals.

Make creativity everybody’s job
It’s a common misnomer that creativity should only be the job of the people with “design,” “art” or “creative” in their titles. This is an incredibly limiting and dated point of view. Our belief is that we are a creatively-driven company, not that we are solely driven by “creatives.” The responsibility is on everyone’s plate to generate inventive thinking — to look at the blank page, excel spreadsheet, or line of code and find a new solution.

See also: Why taking a vacation is good for productivity

Cross-platform collaboration
At Deutsch, everyone gets a seat at the table, and everyone’s ideas will be heard — from the most recent hire to senior leaders. One of our creative strategies is to bring team members from different disciplines and backgrounds together to brainstorm ideas. Sharing different perspectives and approaches encourages everyone to think beyond their own experience, ultimately producing better ideas.

Build more
There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing your hard work come to life. Whether it’s a physical invention, a new campaign, an app or some other kind of creative project, it’s important to give your employees the tools they need to make things happen. When you’re able to expand your mind to think beyond traditional ways of doing things, and by prototyping, you’re able to quickly see if those ideas actually work. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is exhibit a willingness to take risks. Leading with creative thinking means embarking down paths without precedents or proven results. But as my dad used to say, “The biggest risk is not taking one.” That couldn’t be more true today.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

Proof that the greatest ideas come from junior employees by Sophie Kelly, CEO of The Barbarian Group.

The real reason your ideas aren’t going anywhere by Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify.

How your boss is killing your creativity at work by Jeff Diana, chief people officer at Atlassian.

Why creativity is absolutely crucial in the workplace byBarbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation.

The one thing that’s blocking your creativity by Kerry Healey, president of Babson College.

How to reward good (and bad) ideas at work by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

4 ways to stop worrying and embrace creative risks by Laura Pincus Hartman, professor of business ethics at Boston University.

Why you absolutely need creative employees by Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.