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Creativity in the workplace
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Creativity in the workplace
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May 13, 2013
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Creativity in the workplace
1. © 2013 Todaymade | page 1TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACE
© 2013 Todaymade | page 2TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEBetter At Marketing Training© 2013, Todaymadetodaymade.comHOW TOENCOURAGE CREATIVITYIN THE WORKPLACE
© 2013 Todaymade | page 3TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEMake The Space For CreativityCreative SpacesIdea CentersMake It Safe For CreativityBeing With And WithoutSafety In NumbersMany Voices, Many VolumesMake Creativity GrowCreativity Killer MythsThe Creative Power Of Individuals and TeamsCONTENTS
© 2013 Todaymade | page 4TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEMAKE THE SPACE FOR CREATIVITYCreativity isn’t just for artists.Creativity is for every business, whether we sell tires oradvertising. It is the foundation for all success. It is about theability to think, work with what’s available, and identify andsolve problems. What could be more important in the workplacethan that?Exchanging creativity for unquestioning obedience, towing thecompany line, and a “that’s not my job” mentality is a losingsituation. We must actively encourage creativity to make surethat doesn’t happen.CREATIVE SPACESCreativity happens in different “places”, some more obvious thanothers.Physical SpaceA designated location where brainstorming and creativityoccur helps us switch gears and have permission to set aside
© 2013 Todaymade | page 5TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEusual work for a time. Maybe it’s around a conference table,or in front of a whiteboard. Gathering here is a clear signalto everyone that creativity will commence.Personal SpaceWe each need space that we feel is ours. Within reason (i.e.no Jacuzzi installed in the cubicle), being given the freedomto feel safe and “at home” where we work is vital.Mental SpaceSometimes we need to be given permission to think, to besilent, to join in, or to not answer in favor of processinga request. Introverts and people who aren’t impulsive,especially, need ample mental space.Clock SpaceIf no time is set aside for being creative, we tend to leaveit until an emergency demands solutions. Regular creativemeetings, especially in the scope of a specific project, keepeveryone informed and help spawn solutions to problems wedidn’t know existed.Exploratory SpaceField trips aren’t just for school kids. Exposing people tosomething unfamiliar and is a great way to jump-startcreativity, whether that’s a field trip or in-house educationor event. Unfamiliar territory is where new ideas and thediscovery of new interests come from.Is there room for creativity where we work, or has it beensqueezed out in favor of being “productive”? Creativity is whatensures long-lasting productivity. Without it, productivity dwindlesinto nothing more than mere clocking in and out.IDEA CENTERSIdea centers fall into the category of actual physical spaces,even if they are online in a protected website accessible only
© 2013 Todaymade | page 6TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEto a select group. They are more than just a break room orsocial network. They are designated as a “dumping” ground forideas with very few boundaries, allowing many forms (writing,drawing, found objects, clippings, etc.) and allowing anonymity(as long as things remain appropriate and do not containpersonal attacks).Idea centers may consist of (whether actual or online):WhiteboardsTheir strength is their immediacy and simplicity. They can beerased, so old ideas don’t drag down tomorrow’s fresh idea.We can make a photo of a whiteboard before erasing if wewant to reference any content created on it, since they aretransitory in nature.Bulletin BoardsThese allow for additive collaboration, pinning things ofinterest like a collage, building on what others have shared.At some point they, too, will have to be cleaned off, so apicture may be warranted.Idea BookHaving a blank book where people can write, draw, tape,clip, staple, and glue whatever they want to creates a finereference tool, a creative release for employees, and a simpleway for people to feel like they, as a team, made it. It couldbe as simple as a notebook, or something more elaborate.Once a book is full, it can be added to the company libraryor bookshelf.These are just a few possibilities. Having an outlet makes it easyfor us to find something interesting and think “this is a perfectidea at work, I think I’ll share it.” Having a place and the tools todo that makes sense.We should be able to use these creative spaces without fearof reprisal. It might even mean asking everyone to put in 20
© 2013 Todaymade | page 7TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEminutes a week to get the habit of creativity started.Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re a creative company. Behonest and become one.DO IT NOWReady to make space for creativity in your workplace? There’s notime like the present. This week, do at least one of the activitiesbelow:1) ChooseChoose two or more Creative Spaces and incorporate them into yourworkplace.2) AllotAllot time for employees to take a 15 minute break to just brainstormand be creative without an need to be realistic or connected to a proj-ect at work. Have them do this in a designated Idea Center if youhave one.3) OrganizeOrganize an office “Field Trip” somewhere. Take your employees tothe zoo, for example, and give them the assignment to come up withthree new ideas based on what they see there.
© 2013 Todaymade | page 8TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEMAKE IT SAFE FOR CREATIVITYCreativity is for the rabble-rouser. The boat-shaker. The status-quo decimator. And above all, the truth-teller. Creativity takescourage because it brings about change and it tells the truth.Most of us don’t always want these things.We say we want creativity in the workplace, but whether we’reaware of it or not, we quietly quell creativity with an insistenceon being reasonable, realistic, down-to-earth, having commonsense or being polite. Creatives are either quieted down or theyquietly leave.BEING WITH AND WITHOUTPeople are generally afraid of two things, both at the same time:1. They are part of a group.2. They are not part of a group.Creatives, in particular, intensely need to feel like they — andsubsequently, their ideas — are unique. That they stand out from
© 2013 Todaymade | page 9TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEthe crowd. However, even the most individualistic of us likes toknow someone has our back when we take a deep breath andsay “I have an idea on how to change everything.” Fear makescreativity stay silent. How can we encourage creativity and meetthe need for individuality while fostering solidarity and quietingthose fears?We answer that question in one way: making it safe for creativityto exist.Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build thecapability to recover when failures occur. It must be safe to tellthe truth. — Ed Catmull, Pixar Co-founderSAFETY IN NUMBERSWe’re not looking for safe ideas. We’re looking to make it safeto have ideas. To do that, we want to avoid these scenarios thatcommonly develop during brainstorming or creativity sessionswith groups:The Laugh DownNo one laughs at an idea no matter how ridiculous it seems.An idea might be from way out in left field, but perhaps just afew feet away from where it is out there, lies a solution. Ideascan be fragile; even light teasing can cause serious damageto future group efforts depending upon the personality of theperson.The Patronized PlayOut-right disagreement or ridicule at least has the side-effectof emotional push-back and energy. Being overly patronizingwhen responding to an idea you don’t like makes someonefeel like a child. If you don’t like an idea, that can be workedout in discussion. Pretending to like an idea but subtlyindicating to the group that you think it’s flawed silencescreativity quickly.
© 2013 Todaymade | page 10TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEThe Invisible IdeaBrainstorms are all or nothing. If people are throwing ideasout and they’re being documented, such as on a whiteboard,don’t be an editor. Put all ideas on the board. What’s writtenquickly leads the group on the path. This is not the time todetermine what is relevant enough to make it on the board.Write it down. The group’s brainstorming will handle theediting naturally. Let everyone participate.No More QuestionsSome people present creative ideas not in the form ofsolutions, but as questions. The gift of asking the rightquestion is as valuable as the person who has the gift offinding answers. Every group needs those who ask questions,and those who provide answers. Let people ask questionswithout silencing them by saying “we’re looking for answers,not questions, right now.”The trick to remember about ideas is that even the “bad” ideasare necessary. They help us work past roadblocks. They helpus see the good ones for what they are by comparison. Thekick open the doors to amazing ideas we wouldn’t have foundotherwise. In that way, there are no bad ideas.MANY VOICES, MANY VOLUMESA leader makes it safe to be creative and tell the truth. Groupmembers go about this in different ways, depending on theirpersonality.Be careful that the loudest voices in the group don’t drown outthe quietest. Watch for anyone who may consistently come upwith strange ideas that routinely get shot down. It is too easy forsomeone to learn to keep quiet when facing an unhearing group.Above all, build a culture of creativity. Let it be clear that changeand ideas are welcome. Terror doesn’t inspire creativity.
© 2013 Todaymade | page 11TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEDO IT NOWReady to make it safe for creativity in your workplace? There’sno time like the present. This week, do at least one of theactivities below:1) BrainstormAlready have regular staff meetings? Add brainstorming or creativeproblem-solving to it. Every time. Don’t let staff meetings turn into adry listing of updates and in-office events. Turn your next staff meetinginto a brainstorming session for a project you’re in the middle of rightnow.2) ProvideProvide journals or notebooks (either real paper or online) for eachperson in the group, and let it be their own “safe” place to workthrough ideas. Have the group bring them to the next brainstormingsession and discuss.3) QuestionCan’t think of a problem that needs solving? Maybe it’s time to findone. Have the group come up with five questions. Pool the questionsand work through some of them as a group. Encourage questions thatstart with “what if.”
© 2013 Todaymade | page 12TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEMAKE CREATIVITY GROWCreativity can be killed.It might happen on purpose (let’s hope not!) or it might happenslowly through lack of nurturing. Starting a culture of creativity,and helping it thrive, are both purposeful decisions. Otherwise,creativity loses its momentum and the workplace reverts backto a kind of lowest-common-denominator of existence, the bareminimum required to get the job done.How do you help creativity grow in your workplace? How doyou keep it from dying?CREATIVITY KILLER MYTHSStereotypes and myths surround creativity, and letting these takeroot will kill any creativity that is trying to grow, no matter whatstage it is in.Creativity is messyClutter isn’t good. It keeps you from finding things you need,wastes time, and increases procrastination. Keeping control
© 2013 Todaymade | page 13TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEof things is directly connected to freeing up the mind. Theabsent-minded professor or eclectic artsy stereotype aside,clutter will create a roadblock at some point.Creativity can’t be scheduled.Being able to schedule creativity is a strength and a must.We each still get great ideas at off times, and should takeadvantage of that, but training ourselves to be creative whennecessary can be done. Sometimes we need solutions at 3:15p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon.Creativity is for artists.Creativity isn’t synonymous with ‘artistic’, yet people will oftenrespond to a request for being creative with “I can’t evendraw a straight line.” Most artists can’t draw straight lines,either. Everyone can be creative in their own way. Creativethinking is for everyone, every job, every day.Creativity isn’t measurableBusinesses want proof that what they invest in, whether it’stime or people, has value. They want to know the return onthe investment (ROI). Creativity is tough to measure becauseit manifests itself in different ways. It might be responsible foran amazing solution and satisfied client. But those regularcreative events and activities that weren’t project-specific, thatmight seem like a waste of time? They were the foundation forthat amazing solution. They made it possible for the team tocome together and create that solution.Creativity comes naturallyFor some people, being creative comes naturally, sure. Butcreativity is something to be practiced by everyone. Sooneror later there will be time when it won’t be ‘easy’ and that’swhere having practiced comes in handy. Practice methodsfor working through blocks, for working as a team, forsetting aside distractions, for creating on a schedule. Natural
© 2013 Todaymade | page 14TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEabilities still need refinement through practice. Creativity is nodifferent. Make it a regular practice. Don’t let these myths totake hold. They will kill creativity in their own subtle way.THE CREATIVE POWER OF INDIVIDUALSAND TEAMSIf you want to be original, you have to accept the uncertainty,even when it’s uncomfortable, and have the capability torecover when your organization takes a big risk and fails.What’s the key to being able to recover? Talented people! —Ed Catmull, Co-founder of PixarIndividuals lose objectivity with their own ideas, or make themtoo precious. Teams easily slip into group-think and makeconsensus and compromise more important than a creativesolution. Understand these tendencies, and consider:Individuals come up with ideas. Teams refine them.Keeping creativity alive and growing means using both theindividual and the team, and not one over the other. It meansknowing how they work together best, and when to bring peopletogether to work or to split them apart for new ideas. Having ateam helps when it comes time to schedule creativity. Some inthe team might be on, some off, but together they function as acreative whole and can bounce and generate ideas off of eachother. Making use of individual creativity is good when the ideasseem to be stuck in a rut.How do you help creativity grow?Don’t fall for the myths. Then, see the power of the individualcreator, and the strength of the team. Use them both. Regularly.
© 2013 Todaymade | page 15TODAYMADE.COM|CREATIVITYINTHEWORKPLACEDO IT NOWReady to make creativity grow in your workplace? This week, doat least one of the activities below:1) StudyObserve how other companies foster creativity. As a start, learn aboutIDEO and how they approach creativity for problem solving. Watchthe video “The Deep Dive” on YouTube (there are several related vid-eos there – be sure to watch them).2) ScheduleSet up a regular schedule for creative activities. If creativity strikes out-side of the schedule, by all means, go with it. Stick with the scheduleand work through it when you feel creatively dry.3) ChallengeMake a creative challenge for the team. Provide a problem, and theboundaries for the solution. Use this technique regularly, as part ofpracticing creativity.4) MakeMake something. If a team seems fragmented, ask: what can the teammake together? Have a “make something” time set aside, whethereach week or each month.
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