In a rapidly changing world business leaders are finding it difficult to keep their competitive advantage on an on-going basis. Technology and cost control are no longer adequate to sustain the lead. It is the organisation’s ability to innovate through creative thinking that makes all the difference. No one questions the need for innovation in the business. Organisations recognise the importance of creativity and innovation for acquiring and sustaining success.

While mission and vision statements are useful to keep the activities focused, the people in the organisation at all levels need to make the mission and vision real. A more focused and well written mission statement provides the employees much needed direction. An effective vision or mission statement should bring out the passion and commitment from the employees. In the process of their journey towards the mission and vision, employees need to think creatively, so that they are able to innovate the whole range of activities, including the processes and the products.

Successful organisations not only ensure that every employee is able to remember and passionate about the mission and vision, but provide adequate training and support to achieve the goal. Toyota’s mission is “To sustain profitable growth by providing the best customer experience and dealer support.” It is the passionate employees of Toyota who are willing and ready to take the challenge to make the mission a reality.

Paul Sloane in his book titled ‘The Innovative Leader’ in discussing on how to inspire and drive creativity in the workplace suggests that leaders in the organisation must explain to their people how their ‘role is crucial in fulfilling the vision’. In the case of Toyota, the organisation decided to identify major sources of waste that prevent the company from achieving its mission. It identified seven major sources of waste. Using the seven sources of waste, Toyota moved forward to eliminate them. The list provided a more focused approach for employees to work towards a common goal. By making every idea count and encouraging the employees at all levels to use their creativity to the fullest, Toyota was able to become one of the best manufacturers.

Shoichiro Toyoda of Toyota Motors views creativity, challenge and courage as ‘the 3C’s of Innovation’. You need employees who are passionate about what is going on before they are willing to challenge the current processes and practices that prevent the organization form moving forward. Courage demands commitment. When an employee has the courage to challenge what goes on, aimed at bringing out better results, is only part of the answer for acquiring and sustaining success. Moving from the status quo is innovation and that requires a different style of thinking. The creative thinking enables and encourages every employee to contribute new ideas that will make it possible to launch new products or services and eliminate the sources of waste. In the 21st century it is creativity through innovation that will add value. Only then you can sustain success in the market place.

What is so special about the organizations that are able to sustain success through creativity and innovation? They train their employees on creative problem solving skills and empower them, so that the employees make the right decisions to put their ideas to work. There is high degree of trust among the employees right across the organization with minimal status differences. Employees are challenged to generate high quality innovative solutions through creative thinking. These organizations also believe that creative thinking is a transferrable skill that can be acquired in the right work environment. Recognizing the characteristics of successful organization that managed to sustain success through creative thinking is the best way to get started.

Any business organization can acquire and sustain success through creative thinking by adopting the following practices in the workplace:

1. Let each employee understand about the organization’s mission and vision and how they can make that mission and vision a reality.

2. Communicate enthusiastically sharing the best practices, so that they will continue to seek out even better solutions to take full advantage of business opportunities. In the presence of Open communication employees become passionate about the mission and vision.

3. Train your employees on creative thinking skills, so that they understand the power of creative thinking.

4. Empower the staff at all level, by getting rid of micro management style in managing your operation.

5. Create a dynamic work environment that encourages trust and commitment across departments and work units.

6. Provide the required resources (manpower, money, methods, materials and machinery) so that the employees are able to implement creative and innovative processes.

7. Continuously work toward creating and sustaining creative work environment, so that everyone is enthusiastic about demonstrating commitment and innovation in their work practices.

In the process of attempting to create and sustain success of your business through creative thinking, remember the three C’s of Innovation – Courage, Challenge and Creativity.