Creativity researcher Jonathan Plucker, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana University once said, "As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit. Making it one helps you become more productive."
Creativity is the groundwork of innovation. By its very definition, creativity symbolizes the ability to create. This ability is a science in itself, the science of creativity!
Let’s take a look at a few basic questions that come to your mind when you start a conversation about creativity:
- Does an idea have to be unique and original to be creative? Yes.
- Do you need to have imagination to be creative? Yes.
- Are you creative? No.
- Can you develop creativity? YES.
In times to come, technology is going to become synonymous with breathing, it is going to become an indispensable part of our life to perform at our full potential. It will no longer be restricted to your personal lives through apps and appliances, it’s very much going to be a part of how you function, what you do, what you need to do and how you go forward. While the human element will help humans survive, culture will help the organization survive. To build and equip the future workforce with the right set of skills and capabilities that the future of work demands, it is becoming increasingly crucial to be able to support that growth with a work environment that is supportive and constructive.
To understand how you can build a culture of creativity to guide your organization through change, here is an interesting research conducted by Robert Epstein, a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego.
The renowned psychologist Epstein laid down four guiding principles to foster creativity as a value. A study by the Creativity Research Journal observed 74 employees in California who undertook creative training workshops comprising games and exercises that had been designed by Epstein himself, reinforcing the four guiding principles fostering creativity. It was found that as a result of attending these workshops, over a period of eight months, there was a 55 percent increase in the rate of new idea generation among the employees which lead to generation of an additional $6,00,000 in revenue along with savings of nearly $3.5 Mn, by developing and implementing innovative cost reduction practices. The four guiding principles as suggested by Epstein are:
- Capture your new ideas: As important as it is to generate new creative ideas, it is equally important to make a note of them and capture them by either writing them down or recording them. With the kind of workload and multi-tasking we indulge in (with multi-tasking becoming an expectation instead of a competitive edge), it is easy to lose track of any new idea. Individuals need to keep making a note of any new ideas or suggestions they might have.
- Seek out challenging tasks: Build a work environment where employees seek challenging tasks that might not have been done before, and do not already have a step-wise solution. Encourage employees to push their boundaries and come up with new solutions. These tasks could be business-oriented or workshops to help develop the ability to think beyond the obvious.
- Broaden your knowledge: Invest time in educating yourself in topics outside your area of work. This will help broaden your knowledge and enable you to refer to diverse content while you creatively come up with solutions.
- Surround yourself with interesting things and people: Step out of your comfort zone and interact/network with individuals from diverse and interesting backgrounds. Gaining exposure to experiences outside your regular circle will enrich the quality of your thoughts and strengthen your ability to think outside the ordinary. Any experience that stimulates new thinking should be encouraged.
Creativity is crucial not just from an organization’s perspective of receiving fresh ideas but is equally relevant for an individual to be able to generate ideas.
More often than not, majority of the working population is expected to deliver an endless list of tasks and responsibilities both in their work and personal lives. As a result, stress is bound to arise and this stress has a high risk of turning into burnout. Stress and time constraints are major creativity killers as also agreed by Epstein. To help an employee remain efficient and healthy, creativity also serves as a break from the monotonous loop of work and life. In fact, by exercising creativity, an individual can integrate his work life and personal life, creating a healthy and efficient way of working and living through work-life integration.
As employees, we all carry our work stress back home at times, hampering family time. Similarly, we carry personal troubles to work, which is very likely to impact the delivery and quality of work. In such situations, one needs to think out of the box to bring the right balance without hampering either part of their lives, and something as basic, yet critical as this situation can be taken care of creatively. A happy employee who either has or develops the ability to think about managing his time and life can successfully make his way through similar conflicts at her/his workplace and also help their colleagues to figure their way out of similar or different circumstances.
To ensure the entire organization moves forward with the changing times, processes and technologies, leaders need to empower employees to not only survive but thrive amidst the transformation. By building a culture of creativity, organizations can enable each and every employee to think beyond the ordinary, innovate and evolve.
In times of tech-enabled processes and functions, humans need to build on their human element to sustain. What makes us human? What skills do we have that cannot be replaced? Think. Think creatively. Think CREATIVITY.
If you are still wondering why creativity is a cultural pillar, here is why:
Video Credits: Created by Child Creativity Lab