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Creativity and Innovation - 26 May 2009

Madonna is known the world over as the Queen of Reinvention. 25 years after her first single was released, she’s still topping the charts and producing sold-out tours internationally. She’s out-gunned all of her peers from the 80s simply because she has mastered the art of constant creativity and infinite innovation. Here’s how you can do the same at work.

Get real: Madonna draws her inspiration from everywhere. She usually sees trends emerging elsewhere and then introduces them to the mainstream, like yoga, for instance. So stop thinking of yourself as the source of all ideas and your employees as the implementers. It is employees that often generate the best ideas. Ask stimulating questions, be attentive, and support their suggestions.

 

Create safety: Despite being panned ruthlessly by movie critics and failing consistently, Madonna still relentlessly pursues her acting projects. She just doesn't care. Make it safe for staff to fail and encourage learning when it happens. Never punish failure; only inaction.

Protect from bureaucracy: When threatened with arrest by policemen if she proceeded with a lewd act in her concert, Madonna did it anyway. She never lets the rules stop her. Likewise, don’t allow cumbersome red tape and meddlesome protocols to block creativity. As Madonna says, “Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.”

Foster collaboration: From Prince to Justin Timberlake, Madonna has collaborated with her peers knowing that creativity thrives in teams. When your employees work together on innovation, a similar infusion of energy occurs that ramps up their creativity. Reward not only the employees that perform well, but those who go out of their way to help their colleagues.

Irrational thought: Whether it’s hanging from a crucifix or kissing other women on stage, Madonna never shies away from the outlandish. Don't discard your employees' ideas just because they seem crazy. It’s the wackiest ideas that eventually lead to innovative gems.

Time and resources: Madonna set up her Raising Malawi charity to ease the suffering of Malawi’s 2 million orphans. In addition to funding it, Madonna makes time to meet experts in healthcare, economics, and international development. Similarly, your team’s creative efforts will lead to nought unless they’re given the time and resources to work on innovation.

You’ll be amazed at the stuff your employees come up with when you give them the opportunity, safety, and support to… express themselves.

 

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