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A process for creativity

June 6, 2011 / 2 min read

Being managing partner of an accounting firm, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I have an affinity for systems and processes, especially those that are continuously refined in the name of efficiency and effectiveness. I think most businesses are like this. We have processes in place for everything from planning the strategic direction of our organizations to how we train and develop our staff. However, there’s one area that, although critical to the success of all organizations, historically hasn’t seemed to fit into a process: creativity.

Until now. In his book Disciplined Dreaming, author and ePRIZE founder Josh Linkner presents his five-step methodology for creative growth. He says he was inspired to write the book after becoming concerned about an increasing shortage of creativity in the business world due to a lack of specific systems to build, nurture, and manage creativity. Linkner’s five steps are: (1) Ask (2) Prepare, (3) Discover, (4) Ignite, and (5) Launch. It’s the preparation phase I’d like to discuss briefly today.

Part of preparing for the creative process, according to Linkner, is positioning your environment for maximum creative output. This includes what he calls “breaking out of the beige cube farm.” Now, there aren’t a lot of cubes to be found at Plante & Moran, but I understand his point. Your physical environment can contribute to creativity. This is why, for strategic planning purposes, many organizations go on retreats to places far away from their day-to-day work experience.

Recently, a small group of our Chicago staff took a field trip to the Catalyst Ranch, a company that provides unorthodox meeting space to jump start creative conversations. The space is filled with color, texture, and fun, from retro furniture to art supplies to toys. One partner was so enthused that he plans to recommend that we use the space for an upcoming manufacturing and distribution leadership team meeting—he felt that the space encourages informality and even a little silliness to break down barriers and enable people to freely share ideas instead of waiting for the “right” idea.

So what do you think? Would you ever consider using someplace like Catalyst Ranch for internal or client meetings? And what kinds of things do you do at your organization to encourage creativity?

Speaking of creativity, don’t forget to take our Innovation Quotient survey. It should take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and your information will be used for benchmarking purposes only. Around August 15, you’ll receive a customized report on your organization’s innovation IQ.

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