Creativity is so intrinsically linked to the special events industry that its true meaning has become lost in a sea of job titles, marketing verbiage, and company branding. As a diverse, powerful, well-connected industry, we’re all in agreement that creativity is a key part of what we do, but we often struggle to make it part of our companies’ daily operations.
It’s not enough to just say that we’re creative. How can you as a caterer ensure your company's default position is to always be innovating? The answer comes down to culture.
Risk: The secret of creativityCreativity isn’t about one good idea or stroke of genius. Sure, you might get lucky here and there, but creativity needs to be part of your company’s DNA in order to consistently come up with winning new concepts.
Take Pixar, for example. It’s widely regarded as one of the most consistently creative companies around -- everything they make feels fresh and one-of-a-kind. Former company president Ed Catmull attributes much of that to Pixar’s philosophy around risk-taking. As a manager, he saw his job as creating an environment where creative people feel encouraged to take risks, collaborate with one another to refine their so-called crazy ideas, and quickly recover from failures.
That won’t come as a surprise to those who understand the creative process, which typically goes something like this:
“Oh my gosh, I have this awesome idea!”
“Hmmm, this is going to be difficult.”
“Ewww, this is crap. I’m crap.”
“Wait, this might be okay!”
“Yes! This is AWESOME!”
The creative process is hard because putting a new idea out into the world makes us emotionally vulnerable. No one wants to be rejected, and as we grow into adulthood, we learn that it’s “safer” to stick with the tried-and-true ideas rather than propose something different. Successful creatives train themselves to tear down these mental barriers, regain that unbridled excitement we all had as children, and share the wonderful ideas they develop. That’s the mindset you need to instill in your employees to build a creative culture.
Make it safe to be creative
Of course, taking the risk to be creative is easier said than done -- even for those of us in special events, ironically. Though we all boldly proclaim ourselves as creatives, I've found that most of us stay silent when we believe we have a great idea and generally don't feel we're living up to our creative potential.
How could this be? As a collective group, we’re hardwired with a passion for all things unique, different, and extra, but still we hold ourselves back. This isn’t meant as an indictment of the industry -- it just goes to show how incredibly difficult it is to be creative. Even though we all know innovation is crucial to our bottom lines, we still have trouble mustering up the courage to do it.
That’s why you have to do more than just profess the importance of creativity. You have to go out of your way to empower creativity. You need to tear down the barriers of fear and embarrassment that adults so easily succumb to and provide a space where employees are free to unleash their inner genius, without fear of shame or rejection. The key to establishing this freedom is to celebrate each and every creative idea, failure or not, so that people can feel safe in the knowledge their creative efforts will always be rewarded in some way. Make no mistake -- the companies doing this today are the thought leaders pushing our industry forward.
Creativity is our industry’s lifeblood
As an industry, we share a mission to provide unique, memorable experiences for our clients and their guests. Creativity is the lifeblood that empowers us to meet that goal. If you can build a company culture that fosters play, outlaws judgment, and celebrates failure, both you and your clients will reap the rewards.