The world around us is full of all kinds of opportunities for creativity, everyday. There are an increasing number of new problems to solve, and inventions to create. Most of us will – on a daily basis – have new ideas for things to fix or put right. Yet how many of us act on those instincts? Why is it that so often our creativity stops at the ideas stage, and we will inevitably become frustrated when we see someone else has been able to implement the same idea – seemingly quickly and easily!
I think Pablo Picasso could have the answer “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one as we grow up”. The fact is we are all creative. Remember back to when you were young and the genius inventions you were able to create simply from a box of Lego or blocks? This is still inside you. It has likely just been suppressed over time. Society teaches us to conform and to avoid risk – being creative requires us to re-ignite that courage and learn to act on it.
And businesses do the same. We make being creative ‘a role’ for some people in the organisation, thereby classifying others immediately as not ‘permissioned’ to be courageous and take some risk with creativity.
Yet imagine if we were able to embrace the creativity inside everyone in our workforce – what power could we unleash and how much more fun and happiness would we have together?
Let’s talk about how.
Fundamentally there are two types of creative people. Those with true Creative Ability (or skills) and those with Creative Power (the will).
Undoubtedly people with high Creative Ability are the ones we want first on the team. They are the visualisers, the engineers, the artists and the linguists. With them on the team – pointed in the direction of a real problem to solve for the business or society – quickly they can visualise and imagine how things could be different or better.
They eat problems for breakfast. For them – being creative comes naturally and they can be a source of immense creative productivity for the organisation, if enabled. You can spot these people by simply asking them what they do when they are not working. If they have creative ability, they will love to talk about it.
As a manager it’s then your job to find ways to connect them towards a challenge your organisation has and give them time and space to apply their ability and skills.
Then partner them with those with Creative Power. These are the people in your organisation with the will and capability to make creativity, commercial. When paired up with those with creativity ability and skill, they can enable new ideas to survive the firestorm of criticism and reluctance for change present in so many risk averse cultures.
They are determined to move ideas to reality. They see the potential in a sketch or a storyboard and can visualise how to produce the outcome quickly.
Creativity for them is like yoga for their mind – whatever their day job they will gravitate to a new idea like a child to a toy – with energy and enthusiasm. They will find resources and bring different skills to cut through the organisational apathy to get things done. They are the innovation managers, the design practitioners, the programme leaders. They just need great ingredients and they will work their magic to transform ideas into innovation.
Creativity is the certainly the starting block of problem solving yet requires a ‘chain’ of momentum to occur to get ideas implemented and innovation happening. Especially in organisations where there is risk involved. By unleashing how people are able to create value in new ways we will enable bold and creative ideas, to be finessed with design into tangible commercial outcomes and innovation will start to flourish.
To unlock this capability from your workforce you need
– People in leadership with ‘learning mindsets’ – the ability to take risk, see challenges as an opportunity for learning, and can encourage creative people to have a voice.
– Time and space – recognising that all employees have some inner creativity, give them time to ‘think’ and produce ideas outside of their day-job. Research tells us the biggest blocker to innovation and creativity in the workforce is ‘I’m not allowed to – I don’t have the time’.
– To embrace new ways of working – enable your people to express their potential in multiple ways e.g. why can’t a CFO work on social media campaigns if that’s his talent too? More and more people are looking for outlets for creativity in their work – find ways to augment their existing role to enable this.
To unlock this creativity in you:
– Be courageous. Believe in your creative ability or power and start acting on it – sketch out your idea and show it to someone you think could help you make it a reality.
– Connect your ideas to the true human value. Often, we are driven by our own instincts when we generate ideas – how might you test if others share your view? Don’t attach yourself to the first idea you have. By sharing it with others you will see the true or increased value quickly.
– Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. So many people are afraid to show their creativity at work – but what’s the worst that can happen? You might find your employer is more willing to enable you to act than you think. If not, keep working on it – once it goes beyond an idea they might show more interest!