We all look for new exciting opportunities in our rapidly changing business environment. For this we need exploration and creativity. However, we also need control to continue operating and exploiting the existing businesses.
One way to give freedom for exploration in a controlled manner in an organisational setting is to build a creative sandbox.
Creativity needs freedom, but also boundaries. We can agree on the boundaries and build a creative sandbox. The boundaries can be built e.g. by money, time and personnel available. There are naturally other organisation and industry specific ways of defining the boundaries.
In extreme cases, the whole organisation can work as a creative sandbox, e.g. Pixar. Other forms can be internal start-ups, skunk works, self-organising teams, R&D processes etc. You name it, but the principles are the same!
It is important that the boundaries are agreed together with the creative team. Within these boundaries the team can exercise their autonomy in ways of working and progressing. The role of the leader is to ensure that the agreed boundaries are respected – both by the creative team and the organisation.
The other role of the leader in relation to the creative sandbox is to support the creative team – as a colleague and mentor when needed, not as a boss.
The freedom and psychological safety provided by the creative sandbox is a great way of sparking creativity - and harnessing it for the benefit of the company at the same time.
You can play freely in the creative sandbox, but you cannot throw sand out – or hit others with the toys!
Tuomas Auvinen and Creader Ltd concentrate on helping executives and companies harness and lead creativity and innovation.