Mastering the Art of Creativity in the Workplace
If you would ask me what’s that single component I keep missing within the corporate world more and more by the day to help enhance both the innovation and open knowledge sharing processes, amongst several others, I would venture to state that single one missing component would be creativity. I am sure you would all agree with me that creativity on its own is perhaps one of the most precious things we have, as human beings, and which makes us all, each and everyone of us, for that matter, rather unique. Yes, indeed, we can all be creative on our own. Yet, if you look into the business world there is very little creativity going around apparently. Do you know why?
It’s as if we were educated, and told, consistently, over the course of decades, to not think out of the box, to stick to the given rules, to follow that inertia of accepting the status quo that has dominated that business environment as it is today and eventually to just keep quiet, since you never know what’s going to happen and for that matter you surely don’t want to stand out too much. It’s just as if you were told to even stop thinking on your own, because you might even get creative and that could well be frown upon with the argument that, you know, you are not working hard enough anymore. You are being creative, therefore you become dispensable. Careful where you are going… Your boss, all of a sudden, sadly owns your own decision making process. And you get stuck. For a (long) while. Does it ring a bell?
Over the course of the last few months I have been reading a good number of articles that, thankfully, are starting to question such status quo of neglecting creativity at work and we are seeing how there are more and more blog posts, articles, dissertations, inspiring presentations and what not that have helped us understand how Creativity (With a capital C) helps us accelerate, through both acts of playfulness and mindfulness, the process of how we share knowledge across and, more importantly, how we collaborate together in a much more effective manner by being capable of sharing ideas openly, build upon each other’s thoughts and eventually get work done in ways we would have never expected or assumed possible. Creativity is all about making the impossible today’s new reality, after all.
To me, it is, basically, just an opportunity to feel empowered enough about how your own thinking process, as crazy and wild as it may well be, can help make a difference in today’s corporate world by helping address and fix some of the most burning business problems. Yet, when you look into it, creativity is still not embraced as something very much necessary within the corporate world and I suppose after watching a particular short video clip, I am now starting to understand why: for creativity to flourish in a working environment the less constraints we have (As in the less right answers we have), the much more effective that creative process will be. See? That’s where the problem comes up, because, in general, the corporate world always aims at putting together constraints and live by them. Regardless. And the larger the corporation, the much heavier the constraints.
But what would happen if that wouldn’t be the case? What would happen if, all of a sudden, businesses out there, in general, would tear down apart their own constraints and allow for knowledge workers to let creativity flow and thrive again? As usual, the answer is within our kids. Take a look into this particular short clip, that lasts for a bit over 2 minutes, and which explains, quite nicely, what I mean above with the kids always having the answer in terms of taking simplicity of a complex task into new levels:
Goodness! Is that it? Can it be, indeed, so simple? I mean, can creativity make such a huge difference by just getting rid of the constraints, of the right answers, of not giving people enough freedom and autonomy and just let people use their imagination to achieve optimal results? Well, that seems to be the case and I am glad that video consistently demonstrates it rather well.
It reminds me of an article though I put together over here as well, in this blog, about three years ago where I was also reflecting on the importance of creativity in the workplace but from a presentation that John Cleese, the one and only, I know!, did back then under the suggestive title of “The Source of Creativity“, where he talked not so much about constraints, but about boundaries, which is perhaps a softer concept in principle that helps expand further on with that flexibility towards the creative process.
And this is just something really fascinating, because apparently those corporate driven constraints will eventually need to transform themselves into those human boundaries imposed by knowledge workers, who may have a better context for that creative activity anyway, resulting all in all in them establishing the rules, the guidelines and the modus operandi of what needs to be achieved, which also reminds me of this delightful blog post by Maria Popova quoting another two different video clips from John Cleese himself, once again, (Highly recommended going through both clips, by the way!) and with one killer quote that I think pretty much nails it in terms of how we can bring forward that whole creative process (And thinking) back into the workplace. To quote:
“This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.“
Perhaps that’s what it is all about. That the corporate world, once and for all, stops resisting creativity and becomes a bit more gentle and friendly towards it, to then leave it down to knowledge workers themselves thrive on what they have already been doing since an early age: “a way of operating” from their unconscious.