Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty
- Erich Fromm
Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and she was also the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice in two scientific fields. One great bit of advice she wisely shared was to be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
This makes a great deal of sense especially as we now live in an Idea Economy where organizations operate in a highly competitive global environment. A big part of business success is about taking great ideas and turning them into reality faster than the competition. Fresh thinking, creativity and innovation fuel business success and deliver the all-important competitive advantage.
So, what is creativity in the workplace?
Creativity is about unleashing the potential of your mind to conceive new ideas. It is characterized by your ability to perceive the world in a different way and to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena so that you can generate better outcomes. Creativity is a useful tool for solving problems or exploring new and innovative ways of doing things. It is about seeking out new opportunities, to produce original ideas, and apply imagination and inventiveness.
One of the key benefits of creativity in the workplace is that it fuels innovation, which is essential against the backdrop of globalization, migration, technological advancements and climate change issues. We now have the added impact of a global pandemic that is wreaking unprecedented disruption and chaos.The need to constantly review how we do things is essential.
Explore new opportunities
Innovation is an imperative to maintain our quality of life in these changing circumstances. Always doing things in the same way will only produce the same outcomes, which may not be relevant or useful. We are living in an age where fostering creativity and innovation will help us to overcome the challenges we currently face and, in turn, support our ability to not only survive but to thrive. Great leaders understand the power of creativity as a tool to unleash fresh thinking and explore new opportunities and solutions to complex problems.
How to increase creativity
Great leaders of the future will know how to creatively build an open culture for the exchange of ideas and collaboration. In my work with teams across industries and culture, I have found that empowered leaders have the ability to really set the tone for creative explorations. This leads to innovation, fresh thinking and even some unexpected solutions.
These are my top three tips for fostering creativity in the workplace:
1. Build creative networks
Encouraging collaboration in the creative process through building a creative network is so important. Working in isolation can stifle creativity and having a network each individual can reach out to and bounce ideas off is really stimulating, especially with remote working becoming more the norm. Build a network of empowered creative minds and your team will break through the status quo and drive innovation with enthusiasm.
2. Identify barriers to creativity
To ensure that your team has the time and space to be creative, you will need to remove any barrier. If the barrier is time, mark off time in everyone’s calendar to collaborate on something fresh. If space is a barrier, open a new shared folder for ideas or start a chat chain where people can share ideas. Engage with your team to identify any barriers from their perspective and ask them to explore and suggest solutions. You don’t always need to have all the answers.
3. Support employee wellbeing
The best neurochemical cocktail for most creative work is a high level of both serotonin and dopamine. This combination of neurotransmitters will help your team feel calm, creative and energized. It is important to reduce stress as it produces the hormone cortisol, which can counteract the creativity-boosting effects of serotonin. Encourage and support this wellbeing within your team with a combination of stress management, healthy eating, drinking water, sleeping well and exercising.
Failing is part of the creative process
Something else that is really important to remember is that failure is part of the creative process and provides one of the most powerful ways for your team to learn and grow.
As Thomas Edison once said, "I failed my way to success".
If you punish honest mistakes within your team, then you will most certainty inhibit future creative potential. Set an example by viewing mistakes as learning opportunities and see them as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. Cultivate a team narrative that says, "We don’t fail, we learn and that is all part of the creative process".
This is how great leaders can best support their teams to be truly empowered, creative and innovative.
If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play
- John Cleese