Habits are what we do without thinking. Culture is the habits of a group of people.

I’ve been fortunate to be raised in an environment that encouraged me to influence those around me. I’ve also been given the mandate in various organisations to actively change how people do things.

An advertising agency was aware that constant innovation was the best way to future-proof them from disruption from others who risk being innovative. I was asked to influence individuals and teams throughout the agency to more innovative habits.

Later I was asked by the creative department to develop a better creative culture.

I started by both these endeavors to change culture by spending a lot of time listening to people about what they thought innovation/creativity was. I listened to why they thought it wasn’t as good as it could be.

They had already hired talent that was creative and potentially innovative but they didn’t know how to develop their personal skills. What I had to do was find a few influencers and invest in them first. These were the “seeds” of the change.

“Seeds” need good “soil” in which to grow. We spent time researching the conditions that would encourage better growth of the culture that was sought. We tested some conditions and encouraged others. This spanned from more plants and better music to company wide initiatives to identify inspirations.

Finally the new “seedlings” needed energy or “sun”. This energy needed to come from leadership. We instituted some big and small changes in how they did things and communicated.

The biggest shift in a culture of creativity came from the insight that discontent lead to a narrow mindedness in the staff. A big push to encourage gratitude made people look for things to be thankful for. Turns out when you look for good things you end up seeing more god things. This led to hope and with hope came a new worldview, one that lets you see more opportunities and makes you more creative.

Culture change is a far better and more sustainable way to encourage behaviour. Financial motivation is short lived and fear never leads to improved productivity. Culture change is slower (just like growing seeds) but longer lasting.