Lean is Not Creativity’s Arch-Nemesis, but rather, an Innovation Sparker

We’re told over and over again that applying Lean methodology upgrades workplace productivity, but does it also inspire creativity?

Creatives are often the first to RUN from structured processes as they believe (and have been taught) that organized systems are stiff and discourage their natural inventive natures. These types of people feel limited when they are forced to follow specific protocol because they have observed that inspiration strikes at random and worry that following a straight path toward a goal will stifle their imaginations.

So, why blend Lean principles and creative minds?

Creative People are Not Constantly Creating
Even creative types have to deal with searching for files, document access, project collaboration and organizational tasks. What if they could get these tedious, but necessary, activities out of the way faster? Wouldn’t they have more time to think those creative thoughts? Applying Lean principles helps add value to team members by speeding up (and sometimes automating) those snooze-worthy tasks.

Creative People Get Stuck, Too
It’s true. The best writers experience writer’s block, the most outstanding artist stare at blank pages, musicians get in ruts, designers get discouraged and creators stop creating. Many, however, will rise to the challenge if goals are defined by clear boundaries accompanied by one of the most considerable free resources out there: team discussion. Take brainstorming, for example— an entire team generates ideas and deliberates the pros and cons of the concepts. Collaborative creativity is the heart of innovation. Visualize without limits to unleash unprecedented revelations.

Communication Across all Departments Skyrockets
Often, products and services are complicated enough that they require creative sub-solutions in various technical areas. Designers don’t necessarily communicate well with manufacturing specialists or engineers, but the tendency for miscommunication shouldn’t be accepted as a fixed reality. Collaborative thinking creates more value, and Lean offers elemental rules for how various teams can work together in a considerate manner. Due to its visual and team-based approach, Lean enables team members to build on each other’s ideas, rather than shooting them down just because they came from another department. It also supports open dialogue and focus within the project that makes every worker feel important, and therefore, more willing to give every project 100 percent.

It Brings a Method to the Madness
Lean’s purpose certainly isn’t to drain the creativity from the creatives, but to bring structure and predictability to innovation. While creatives focus on idea generation, applying Lean principles can help distinguish said generation from the essential development process. After all, isn’t the overall goal for all parties to meet customer needs in a timely manner? Lean steps help empower workers and reduce uncertainty in the innovation process itself. Creativity without process might result in glass-shattering ideas—but will these ideas ever see the light of day? On the other hand, process without creativity leads to a workforce who feels like their job has transformed into menial labor where checking off next steps becomes more important than the goal. Strike that happy medium and let Lean Management guide your creative processes to new heights.

Still not convinced? Did you know that Pixar utilizes Lean methodology? Their record is absolute evidence that Lean and innovation can coexist wonderfully.

Ready to become Lean? Check out our free guide for future Lean experts.

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Ashley Sava

is Pipefy's Editor and Copywriter. With a background in journalism and content marketing, she uses her wit, writing skills and incurable cheerfulness to leave her readers inspired, hooked and informed. Sava resides in Austin, Texas.