We tend to associate creativity with artists and writers and their inspiring sculptures, vibrant paintings, and beautiful poetry. Because of the focus that exists on these brilliant creators, we seldom appreciate the impact that creativity can have on our professional careers. However, creativity is one of our most useful skills, no matter what work we do, whether it is accounting, marketing, or simply managing a department.
Creativity is what permits us to forge our path and our view. Without it, we remain a part of the organizational machine and the existing structure. With creativity, we can alter our environment, make it better, and grow.
Creativity is also what can help us craft solutions where none existed before. My mother says that everything has a solution, except death. There is always a solution, and creativity is often the only guiding light we have to find it. If your objective is clear, you will often be able to find a way to get there. It might not be the path you envisioned, but it also might be simpler and shorter.
Examples of Creativity
Engineering has a very technical focus, yet it is not immune to creativity. Because we manage buildings in addition to developing them, we need to train personnel to maintain our buildings once they are up and running. Instead of simply retraining construction workers on the job, our Projects manager decided to create an apprentice program. He chose to take in promising candidates from our construction team and train them in the intricacies of the building as it is being built. The idea is to teach them about each of the building’s systems so that when the building is in operation, they know where everything is and the basics of how the electric and hydraulic systems work.
Our sales are few in volume and customized to each client. Our contracts needed to reflect this reality, so we used Word documents in the past. They were easily modifiable, and we could easily add the client’s information as well as the apartment or office space’s characteristics in addition to any additional clauses. The problem was that they were not secure enough — someone could easily delete a line, and it would be hard to notice with detrimental consequences.
We tried different ways of solving the problem, like programing the possible clauses into NetSuite, our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, and then producing the document from the system, yet nothing could compete with the simplicity and speed of our Word documents. I could not let it go because I did not think our Word documents would work for us in the long run. Finally, a year after we started experimenting, inspiration hit me.
We decided to create PDF templates in which 95% of our clauses are unmodifiable, and from there, we could fill in a few fields. Additionally, we assembled a document that we produce from our ERP that has the transaction’s values and all our special clauses. Not only are our contracts more secure, but we can create them in half the time they took before.
In this structured discipline, we do not often think of the role that creativity can have. Of course, the accounting rules need always to be strictly followed, but how we get our work done is up to us. For instance, we had problems reconciling our accounts with one of our suppliers after the end of one of our projects. The amount that we had as a payable to them did not match the receivable they had on their books by a wide margin.
Throughout the construction of that building, we thought we were on the same page each time we paid a check. In the end, however, we had a very large financial difference that took us weeks to sort. We knew we needed a new solution.
So, instead of letting our accounts reconciliation pile up during our other projects, our accounting team decided to sign a document after each invoice payment that acknowledged that the account was fully reconciled. We had never done this before. The solution was a creative fix that ensured we would not have the same problems in the future. In our next project, our accounts are up to date, and although this may seem like a simple improvement, it will save both our supplier and our many hours of work.
Our creativity is an endless fountain of growth. I have found that the more I work with it, the stronger a skill it becomes. In that way, I suspect that it is like any other muscle.