Six ways CEOs can foster creativity in Asia

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Asia-BusinessIn small and medium enterprises (SME), a top provider of new jobs, the law of the land has and will always be innovate or disintegrate.

Fostering a fluid spirit in small, growing companies that encourages employees to question the prevailing logic and take up the temerity needed to become an outlier of outstanding stature is a make or break affair.

Those who can teach their team to be bold will find success; those who get stuck in the comforts of complacency fall below the curve.

Building up a creative environment isn’t a challenge solely confronted by SMEs either, but businesses of every size – it’s just that the tightly knit office space of smaller companies tends to amplify its importance.

In Asia especially, where graduates from India to Taiwan bemoan the stifling “robotic” methods of education that favour falling in line over questioning authority, the lack of creative thinking isn’t an issue sequestered to one type of business, but society as a whole.

Below is a list of 6 ways that CEOs can grab a sip from the elixir of success by breeding bold thinkers, creating the all-to-elusive ingredients of innovation.

Be flexible, forgiving

In Asia, where work culture is composed of the same hierarchical norms that stack each well-defined societal stratum, showing employees that its acceptable to question the status quo and forgo obsequious observations will remove some of the impediments facing creative growth. Innovation requires risks, and inflexible environments built upon punishing risk takers instead of rewarding bold thinkers will only discourage creativity.

Creativity is a skill, teach it

Creativity should be thought of as a proficiency, not a trait, which can be taught. In this way, creativity is more like inventiveness and resourcefulness, which can be inculcated through trial-and-error experimentation and an encouraging environment. Highlighting the difference between divergent thinking, through which many paths can reach the answer to a solution, and convergent thinking, where there is only one correct response, is a good way to begin teaching this skill.

Promote collaboration between opposites

“Great minds think alike,” it has been said, but in reality they often conflict. Innovation can be born from two very different types of thinkers: conceptualists and experimentalists. Getting both types of people to work on a collaborative project may instigate fights, but it will also produce results. Attempting to understand one another is always better than selfishly competing without introducing any dialogue.

Do not fear failure

When I taught English in Taiwan some four years ago, one of the largest challenges I faced was getting students to volunteer to answer questions or participate in projects. The prospect of failure, which would result in “losing face,” was too intimidating to be worth stepping forward. This is a mindset that CEOs must aggressively address. Tell employees that if new ideas are to come about, new tasks and projects must be tested. Never punish failure. Always allocate time to conceptualise and experiment at least once a week.

Build a creative culture

Schedule large brainstorming activities and stick to them. Humans are very susceptible to their environment and peers, and if a routine is created where an open flow of ideas is nurtured, then a culture of creativity will be born. Be bold: Ask your employees to contribute new, radical ideas; invite outsiders as guest speakers.

Reward innovation

Those employees that uncover successful ideas should be singled out and rewarded with a promotion in duties or financial benefits. Make them leaders, but never allow success to get to their head. Remind employees that we often have to fail many times to get a winning idea, and that those who persist will eventually find a path that leads to creative success.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

In small and medium enterprises (SME), a top provider of new jobs, the law of the land has and will always be innovate or disintegrate.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Asia-BusinessIn small and medium enterprises (SME), a top provider of new jobs, the law of the land has and will always be innovate or disintegrate.

Fostering a fluid spirit in small, growing companies that encourages employees to question the prevailing logic and take up the temerity needed to become an outlier of outstanding stature is a make or break affair.

Those who can teach their team to be bold will find success; those who get stuck in the comforts of complacency fall below the curve.

Building up a creative environment isn’t a challenge solely confronted by SMEs either, but businesses of every size – it’s just that the tightly knit office space of smaller companies tends to amplify its importance.

In Asia especially, where graduates from India to Taiwan bemoan the stifling “robotic” methods of education that favour falling in line over questioning authority, the lack of creative thinking isn’t an issue sequestered to one type of business, but society as a whole.

Below is a list of 6 ways that CEOs can grab a sip from the elixir of success by breeding bold thinkers, creating the all-to-elusive ingredients of innovation.

Be flexible, forgiving

In Asia, where work culture is composed of the same hierarchical norms that stack each well-defined societal stratum, showing employees that its acceptable to question the status quo and forgo obsequious observations will remove some of the impediments facing creative growth. Innovation requires risks, and inflexible environments built upon punishing risk takers instead of rewarding bold thinkers will only discourage creativity.

Creativity is a skill, teach it

Creativity should be thought of as a proficiency, not a trait, which can be taught. In this way, creativity is more like inventiveness and resourcefulness, which can be inculcated through trial-and-error experimentation and an encouraging environment. Highlighting the difference between divergent thinking, through which many paths can reach the answer to a solution, and convergent thinking, where there is only one correct response, is a good way to begin teaching this skill.

Promote collaboration between opposites

“Great minds think alike,” it has been said, but in reality they often conflict. Innovation can be born from two very different types of thinkers: conceptualists and experimentalists. Getting both types of people to work on a collaborative project may instigate fights, but it will also produce results. Attempting to understand one another is always better than selfishly competing without introducing any dialogue.

Do not fear failure

When I taught English in Taiwan some four years ago, one of the largest challenges I faced was getting students to volunteer to answer questions or participate in projects. The prospect of failure, which would result in “losing face,” was too intimidating to be worth stepping forward. This is a mindset that CEOs must aggressively address. Tell employees that if new ideas are to come about, new tasks and projects must be tested. Never punish failure. Always allocate time to conceptualise and experiment at least once a week.

Build a creative culture

Schedule large brainstorming activities and stick to them. Humans are very susceptible to their environment and peers, and if a routine is created where an open flow of ideas is nurtured, then a culture of creativity will be born. Be bold: Ask your employees to contribute new, radical ideas; invite outsiders as guest speakers.

Reward innovation

Those employees that uncover successful ideas should be singled out and rewarded with a promotion in duties or financial benefits. Make them leaders, but never allow success to get to their head. Remind employees that we often have to fail many times to get a winning idea, and that those who persist will eventually find a path that leads to creative success.

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