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Executive Leadership: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace, Part 2
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Executive Leadership: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace, Part 2 - Executive Leadership Articles

Executive Leadership: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace, Part 2

Executive Leadership Articles

Executive Leadership: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace, Part 2

A few years ago, we offered ideas for fostering creativity in the workplace: Assess interests, harness creativity and be open to new ideas, and invest in your employees through training. Each of these can be a critical step toward encouraging a company culture of creativity, but creativity is a big idea with a lot of possibilities, not to mention a lot of attention in the press, and it’s easy to see why: creativity means new ideas and new solutions, and new ideas leads to streamlined processes, innovative opportunities, and solutions to problems big and small. Toward these desirable ends, here are three more ideas that can lead to a more creative team.

Create spaces that encourage collaboration and interaction
In an interview on the HBR Ideacast, IDEO president and CEO Tim Brown stresses the need to “nurture culture, nurture environment, and nurture circumstances.” The physical stage, he says, should be set for creativity to thrive and flourish. This means encouraging people to get out of offices and cubicles, to relax their minds for the “aha” moments, and to engage their minds in idea-loosening activity. To so many of our minds, this brings images of foos-ball tables and beanbag chairs, and while that’s the modern stereotype for these bleeding-edge cultures, it’s important to understand that it’s not the foos-ball itself that generates ideas, but the larger concept of engaging with others in seemingly unrelated contexts.

Encourage a relaxed state and a good mood
In practice, environments encouraging relaxed states and good moods often look a lot like the foos-ball tables for collaboration and interaction, which may be why they’ve become so entrenched in our minds, but there’s an underlying philosophical difference at play here. Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works explained in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air that research demonstrates relaxed states and good moods are conducive to innovative or creative thoughts. A relaxed dress code and a ping pong table might contribute to these states of mind—and then there’s what 3M does. Its engineers have an hour each day to do whatever they want. It could be some side project or a personal hobby, but it doesn’t need to be justified or explained as long as it’s shared. The idea is to put people in that relaxed state where ideas can come (a) out of the blue, and (b) with the sense of certainty that accompanies revelation, two characteristics Lehrer says define insight.

Structure for observation and invention at all levels
“Creativity thrives in an environment of disciplined chaos,” writes Barbara Dyer in a column for Fortune.com. The disciplined part of the equation is in looking at situations from multiple angles, removing blinders, and being open to new possibilities. Dyer says these are the characteristics of observation, and observation leads to invention, which is the chaos half. Given the observed problem, with all its observed traits, what are all the paths we could go down toward solutions? This “disciplined chaos” approach is one often employed by writing teachers who begin by instructing students to describe what they literally see, without interpretation, and then expand to what those observations imply. In problem-solving situations, beginning with observed behaviors, processes, details, and outcomes can lead to outside-the-lines solutions. In many workplaces, this takes a bit of practice, but it’s an approach that, over time, can yield big ideas, and who couldn’t use a few more of those?

Reference Links:
HBR Ideacast: https://hbr.org/ideacast/2016/07/teaching-creativity-to-leaders.html
Fortune: http://fortune.com/2015/08/23/barbara-dyer-importance-of-creativity-at-work
NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/21/148607182/fostering-creativity-and-imagination-in-the-workplace


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Executive Leadership: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace, Part 2 - Executive Leadership Articles

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