Program helps small business owners foster, maintain creativity among staff

If you’ve got good ideas, you’re in high demand – according to an American Express Small Business Services poll.

For the majority of small businesses, about 74 percent, creative thinking is very important to the success of their firms. But only 24 percent make room in their calendars for generating new ideas.

Entrepreneurs who responded to the poll highly value the creative thinking of their staff, but often are weighted down by too many other responsibilities to take the time to foster their ideas. When asked who usually comes up with the “best ideas,” nearly half (46 percent) credit their employees, while 37 percent point to themselves. Other gold medal thinking comes from clients and customers (8 percent), friends and family (4 percent), business advisers (3 percent) and even competitors (2 percent).

To help small business owners develop and foster a creative culture at their firms, American Express, Fortune Small Business Magazine and Walt Disney World have developed a management training program that draws from their own philosophies and successes. The program will help business owners learn Disney practices such as establishing an organizational process that encourages employee ideas, fostering a collaborative environment, incorporating creative leadership behaviors into daily activities and increasing the efficiency of idea generation by focusing employee creativity on the goals of the organization.