Thursday, November 6, 2014

Digital HR Transformation: How to Build a Creative Workforce and Workplace?

Hire Mindset; Build Capability, Harness Creativity.

People are the most invaluable asset in business, at the age of digital, it is, even more, true than ever. Talent employees are treated as human capital needs to be well invested to unleash the boundless potential, not just human resources counted as a cost. HR shall also transform itself from an administration function and gate keeper to change agent, capital investor and innovator in order to build a creative digital working environment and catalyze the organizational level of digital transformation. However, how do you, as leaders, involve all people in creative thinking and actions? And how can you help improve the harvest of the creative seeds?

There’s no one size global solution- but there are certainly significant core principles and common practices to experiment and experience. Creativity has a language, but it is altogether different from the one found in the traditional business environment. Generally speaking, you must allow room for failure, for tangents, for being "different". Creativity is a long-term endeavor. It must be cultivated, but most businesses measure success at the end of every growth cycle. Most businesses value mono-culture, homogeneous leadership; rewards mediocre overly encourages “the spirit of animal” which may motivate negative workforce competition; There are core principles in building a creative working environment:
Allow autonomy, let people choose how and on what they work 
- Create a safe environment for learning from failure 
- Provide intellectual challenge and help people make progress 
- Foster integrity, trust, and transparency 
- Encourage curiosity and a growth mindset 
- Help people feel more comfortable with chaos, uncertainty, and ambiguity 
- Encourage people to question the status quo and think independently 
- Create an environment that encourages dissent and candor 
- Allow time for play and experimentation 
- Establish clear, shared goals 

The second half of the creativity equation belongs to the team member. People can be creative in the way they think or act or even in working on projects that excite them. And that’s good, but the bottom line can’t be ignored and as a business leader, you do need to show some ROI over time. Additionally, some people are creative by nature and may thrive in a more free-flowing environment and some of their ideas may bear fruit; the others value order and structure and are not creative by nature; it takes two-way effort –the management’s empowerment and the employees’ attitude and aptitude. Creativity is individual. It is, by nature, unique to each person. There is no template which you can apply and suddenly have a creative workforce. It must be done slowly, patiently, and individually; otherwise, that seems like scattering a bunch of seeds on the wind and seeing which ones germinate. It depends on the nature of the company, its people, and ambitions.

In fact, customer- centric solutions often come from the floor and not the ceiling. The talent management gurus brainstorm the idea of 'productive friction' as a way of encouraging and instilling a creative innovative environment.  At industrial silos, people are treated as resources and cost, and most works are operational in nature; however, digital breakdown such silo thinking, creativity can make many operational works more effective, doing the right things, rather than just doing the things right. Every staff shall strive to become customer evangelist or culture champion; especially there are types of work activities, roles, industries, require great deals of creativity.  

The best way to foster creativity is to help people to communicate in a way that instills confidence, not fear. However, most of the traditional organizations are “busy-ness” to focus only on transactional effort, the trying-to-get-a-leg-up atmosphere in many companies squashes any tiny seed of creativity. As businesses get more cut-throat in the hyper-connected working environment, this puts stress on the labor force that is not conducive to more creative and experimental thinking. That is why so many companies won't do it. if you wanna make a "creative culture" in the company. you need to give talent: 
- A "place" to expand their knowledge 
- A Chance to apply their ideas 
- A recognition for their idea 
- No embedding behavior or hidden rules in the office 
- and make a collaboration culture in the company

Creating a culture of creativity is, by nature, a cultural change. So in company cultures where creativity not always valued, to involve everyone in creativity and to provide a focused approach to real business problems, companies could benefit from a structured approach. Organizations shall support dynamic thinking, independent thinking, systems thinking, complexity thinking and creative thinking. Such thought provoking talent continuously invests in adopting and adapting habits of mind that allow them to think and respond to challenges critically and creatively. In doing so they are able to think holistically about themselves, their team, their relationships with others, the organizations to which they belong, their work, and the environments in which they live and work. They are truth-seeking, willing to change their views and are accountable for their actions. Furthermore, they are robust and judicious in pushing down barriers to achieve the best possible effects. If all talent staff can learn to think like this then we’ll be better equipped to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing, increasingly unpredictable and uncertain digital world in which we live.

Great leaders are creative themselves, who can inspire, provoke, empower and enable talent growth, provide direction when needed & give others time, space & freedom to create. They create a suitable and hybrid (physical + virtual) environment for creativity, stimulate and measure the originality and creativity, focus on cross-generational talent who bring new ideas. And the system of curricula (training, performance management) should be revised to expand the skills on this attitude.


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