Want to know the secret to building a better, more creative workplace?
Just Google it.
You don’t need your browser to get the answer, though. Rather, listen to Creighton University faculty who, time and again, name the search engine giant founded 18 years ago and now worth $500 billion and counting.
Creighton business professor Lance Frazier points to a Google in-house study that shows its most creative teams were ones that felt “psychologically safe” to challenge each other and push boundaries.
Those who suppressed dissension? Not so much.
Communication studies professor Erika Kirby mentions Google’s lack of offices and the meals the company provides employees.
Psychology professor Joshua Fairchild cites Google’s arcades, games and exercise centers to show how a laid-back environment can spur big ideas.
“Google comes to mind because it’s so salient,” Fairchild says. “We see how creative they are. In general, a lot of technology companies, or those that deliver services online, tend to be pretty creative.”
Henry Ford might not recognize today’s workplaces.
“If you think about the early days of the Industrial Revolution, the assembly line, there was not a lot of independence,” Frazier says. “You did your job, and did it really well, and that was it. Now, that’s not the way we work.”
But Google isn’t the only company stretching the boundaries for innovative ways to spur creativity, inclusiveness, trust and other traits that will make their workplaces hum.
Fairchild references online shoe and clothing store Zappos.com, which has flattened its hierarchy, doing away with boss and managerial titles.
Consulting firm IDEO, meanwhile, is well known for tackling challenges using a wide range of perspectives — such as asking a barefoot runner to pitch in when designing new Nike shoes.
Locally, Creighton faculty have worked with Union Pacific, Gallup, N.P. Dodge, Baird Holm, HDR and others trying to make conscious efforts toward out-of-the-box thinking.
It’s not enough just to hire creative people.
“That’s a common pitfall a lot of companies run into,” Fairchild says. “‘If we hire the right people, if we hire creative people, then we’re going to get creative products.’ But that … doesn’t really stop at the hiring process. There’s a lot of research out there, and a lot of literature I’ve studied, that suggest … cultivating a climate that encourages people to work together is just as important.”
For a deeper look at how to address creativity, generational differences, trust and work-life balance, continue reading.