If you had to rank the professions on their level of creativity, where would you rank the HR profession? Probably somewhere on the continuum between accounting and marketing, probably closer to the former and further from the latter. Creativity doesn’t figure highly in any core competencies I have ever seen and the nearest that we get is the more “business acceptable” innovation. Somehow creativity feels soft, it raises images of artists and writers and nebulous concepts, whereas we of course want to look hard and mean and commercial and worthy of the much vaunted “seat at the top table”.
Of course, we deal in a world full of commercial imperatives that cannot be denied. Most of us work in businesses that either need to make a profit, balance the books, or make savings regardless of the sector. The question is not the what, but the how and creativity is a much undervalued tool in the drive for commercial solutions. We need an answer, we look to past experience, to other businesses and to the HR press seldom do we look at our business, look inside ourselves and search for a new or different way. A way that is bespoke to our business and provides a competitive edge.
I’d suggest the first step any HR professional should ever take in considering a solution is to ask what the real problem is and only then to consider whether a solution is actually required and why? What value will it add? Is this driven by business need or by some other force. What is the least intervention that would solve the problem and how does it fit culturally with the way that the business behaves?
Creativity requires you to be brave. It requires confidence and self belief and a willingness to plot a unique course. But it also requires a closeness and in-depth understanding of your business and a desire to make a difference. Being creative isn’t the antithesis of being commercial. It is the start.