For the last 10 years or so, I've had the privilege of sharing my observations on creativity and innovation in growing businesses with one of entrepreneurship classes at Harvard Business School. And while the topic is bit outside day-to-day marketing, I think many of the observations on creativity in small businesses apply to what we do every day as marketers. In my lecture, I touched on seven areas that enable small companies to achieve very high levels of creativity and innovation:
1. Limited resources. Necessity is the mother of invention.
2. Limitless upside. Incredible rewards drive incredible effort; anything seems possible.
3. Individual impact. People at all levels can directly impact the company’s success; they tend to act like owners.
4. Tight community. True interdependence minimizes "free riders," and creates virtuous culture that ensures maximum productivity.
5. Unique people. The risk profile of small businesses attracts “out of the box” people.
6. Lack of process. Little oversight and limited processes result in risk taking and non-standard approaches.
7. Extreme flexibility. The business can easily shift to accommodate new opportunities.
Creativity is very hard to measure, but it is just as much the lifeblood of marketing as it is the key success factor in young businesses. The bottom line is that creativity and innovation derive from a willingness to try new things, to be flexible and, above all, to take risks. So, the next time your boss is pressing for more creative campaigns, tell him/her that creativity is easy--as long as you're willing to try new things, and be wrong from time to time.