I’m often asked the question, “What can I do to help promote an environment of creativity?” You can discuss that question for days on end and continue to come up with great ways. I believe that there is no all encompassing list of things that you can do, but here’s a list of 5 building blocks that can be used as a great place to start.

1. Cast a strong creative vision

As the leader you have to be the biggest cheerleader or promoter of creativity. You also have to give clear direction as to what you want to see communicated or accomplished. I believe you have to set clear boundaries that engage the creative mind.

2. Originality is overrated

Trying to be original is a huge downfall for many organizations. True originality is like gold flashing the pan; it’s rare. Authenticity is what really matters. If someone else has done something really well and you believe it would resonate with your audience, steal it and then be as authentic in your presentation of it as possible.

3. Seek evaluation over praise

I’m all for giving people positive feedback but no one ever got any better at anything by being told that they were great and already doing whatever it is perfectly. Seek out others that will be honest with you and give you a clear evaluation of what you’re doing or of your idea. Create an environment in your organization where evaluation is highly valued on all levels.

4. Avoid the “Oh crap!” moment by planning AND rehearsing

Your “best” ideas aren’t as good as you think they are. Present your ideas to others as often as you can. Every time you revise your idea, present it again for further evaluation. Once you think an idea is great and ready to be used, practice, practice, PRACTICE! You have to see your idea executed many times before you actually execute for an audience so that you will know every possible thing that may happen.

5. There is no magic behind the magic

The bottom line: it’s hard work. An environment of creativity doesn’t happen overnight nor does it continue without a lot of work and dedication. No conference you attend, book you read or blog with a few points laid out can tell you exactly what to do. You have to work hard and figure out what it looks like for you in your situation.

Copyright Michael Cleveland 2014 Up