You know that people grow business. And the people bringing you the most long-term success are those that are creative. Creative employees spearhead innovation and find new ways to overcome obstacles. So it’s important to create an atmosphere where that magical, elusive substance called “creativity” can flow.
But therein lies the problem. Part of what makes being creative so difficult is that creativity isn’t something that can be manufactured. You can’t force it. It is spontaneous. It has to flow.
Does that mean that logic and planning get in the way of creativity?
Creativity, Innovation, and Logic: A Virtuous Circle
Not necessarily. Creativity is, more often than not, a matter of letting go of our assumptions. It focuses less on the precise methods for reaching an answer, and more at the unstated assumptions behind our current ways of thinking. It is less sequential, and more open-ended. It is concerned less with “the” right answer, and more with questioning the problem.
Creativity, in other words, often gives rise to that critical shift in perspective needed to solve a problem in an innovative way. And, once the innovation has taken place, we use logic to understand and organize what just happened (and to check our work). Logic then becomes the fertile soil for growing and harvesting more creativity.
Does this all still sound pretty abstract and metaphorical? We’re not being wishy-washy. We’re inviting you to flex your own creative muscles to see how this process works.
The Practical Application
In the meantime, what does the above answer mean for making your workforce, or yourself, more creative? Remember, you can’t turn on creativity like a switch. But you can remove some of the real roadblocks that tend to stifle creativity. Roadblocks like:
- Providing too much or too little motivation. Are you putting too much pressure on staff? Or are you going the other direction and not motivating enough? Going in either direction can put creativity to a halt. Be sure to provide rewards for creativity and avoid punishment if their ideas don’t work. This will encourage your staff to come up with ideas without fear of being wrong.
- Being too polite. Too often we are afraid to reject an idea because we are afraid of hurting people’s feelings. Try to create an environment where people value honest feedback. Encourage people to explore their ideas, even when they seem like non-starters… but also encourage them to abandon ideas when a better one comes along. As they say, “Don’t fall in love with your ideas.”
- Having too much tradition. Have things always been done in a particular way? If so, you might be discouraging your staff from thinking of new ways do things. Try to shake things up occasionally with a new schedule, a new workflow, or a temporary change in assignments. Allow team members to buck tradition every once in awhile.
- Being impatient. It’s easy to grab on to the first idea that can work, instead of taking the time to come up with something better. But patience gives creativity some breathing room.
- Having a fearful staff. All of the above can eventually lead to biggest roadblock to creativity: a team that is afraid of making mistakes. This will also be a team that lacks the confidence to introduce new ideas. Fear can motivate us to get done what we know how to do by habit-- but our creative juices won’t be flowing. On the other hand, a little encouragement and calm can go along way to creating just the right atmosphere for creativity.
Again, creativity can’t be manufactured… but you can still learn how to be more creative. And so can your employees and coworkers. We’ve developed an entire video course on creativity, so we know it can be done. Try it yourself-- or, if you would like to see a sample of the course we made, contact us.