On 1st February, four business leaders came together in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum to discuss creativity and how to foster it within an organization.
Cisco Chief People officer and EVP Francine Katsoudas; Lego Group CEO Niels B. Christiansen; HCL Technologies CEO and president C Vijayakumar; and Ideo CEO Tim Brown sat down with Fast Company‘s editor-in-chief, Stephanie Mehta, to discuss how to create an organization that truly taps human creativity.
During the panel, all the four leaders agreed to one simple answer, i.e., the need for smooth and autonomous internal teams.
Katsoudas speaking on the occasion said, “Cisco has found a way to enhance its workforce’s creativity. We know that all of our biggest breakthroughs happen on teams.”
According to her, this was not anecdotal, either and that a few years ago the company studied how different teams worked and then evaluated what they accomplish. She said, that the company identified 100 teams that were working well and added a control group of 200 others to try and analyze what the winning aspects were.
She concluded that, “On our best teams, our employees were playing to their strengths. And the groups that were playing most to their strengths felt safety and trust in each other, as well as shared values. Teams that clearly contained those three elements–having employees play to their strengths, fostering trust, and sharing values–had higher company retention.” Furthermore, she added that Cisco is continuing to research this issue as it feed directly into the company’s culture and employee experience.
However, according to Christiansen fostering creativity is a little bit different. His method consists of asking his team to think about things from the perspective of a kid.
He said, “Lego, doesn’t just make throwaway children’s toys but creates something that teaches basic and necessary human skills. They span from “creativity to lateral thinking to empathy. To create such a product line, Lego employees must adopt that playful mindset from the get go. We are very purpose-driven around that. “We create toys for people like us.”
Meanwhile, Brown echoed the efficacy of teams. He said, “What people need to succeed in group efforts is “creative confidence,” or the ability to not only devise a novel idea, but take it beyond an initial inkling. As they begin to build that they can participate in a creative team.”
Although, all four emphasized the need for leadership to learn how to foster better collaborations. The recommendation given by included quantifying team output over individual performance.
Explaining his narrative he said, “It’s the collective action we care about. The company has devised a method for analyzing certain “creative qualities.” They include a team’s purpose, its ability to experiment, how empowered its members are, and how collaborative they are.”