(published on the Memo Employee Welfare Managers website)
Creativity is defined as mental flexibility, breaking frameworks, and creating new worlds. It is multi-faceted and finds expression in a range of ways. Creativity is our way of gazing at the world through different, colorful eyeglasses. And creativity that leads to innovation supplies a driving force and unending fuel for employees and the organization.
Creativity implies agreement to be in a place that’s unrestrained by arbitrary laws, to allow colorfulness in words and thoughts, using your imagination, taking a fresh perspective on daily routine, absorbing experiences – and making the maximum of yourself. It’s linked to discarding rigid ways of thinking, taking risks, and daring to break through the boundaries in ways of thinking and performing.
It’s important to remember that creativity isn’t a quality restricted to outstanding individuals. We’re all creative, but sadly most of us are trapped in entrenched patterns that prevent our creativity from rising to the surface and expressing our inner thoughts, imagination, colors, and music. Judgmental and critical patterns block our inner light from shining.
Over the years, we acquire self-criticism that doesn’t let us apply our creative drive. Often we’re held back from moving ahead by fear of making mistakes, or concern over the reactions of our CEO, colleagues, spouse, or friends.
Haven’t you ever been stopped short by the fear of sounding “dumb”?
Creativity isn’t a dirty word. So why are organizations worried about it entering their work environment?
Between creativity and organizational culture
That fear is also rooted in organizational culture. But creativity isn’t a dirty word, so why are organizations worried about it entering their work environment?
Why is there constant concern over people who think outside the conventional framework? Does it mean that organizations are afraid of changes?
In many organizations, “preserving what exists” is a guiding principle, because an organization is an organic entity that aims to preserve its basic structure and goals. The same is true for the employees, who want to keep their positions in it. There’s a kind of comfort in knowing that nothing will change. The familiar and known provide refuge for both the organization and employees. So when the organization doesn’t leverage us towards innovation and development, we grow accustomed to the situation. Nothing sudden and chaotic can surprise us without advance warning, and jolt our routine world.
The fear of taking risks can actually undermine the existing organizational system, like a terrifying monster speaking an unclear language. And the conclusion is that the winds of change aren’t welcome in a long-established organization. It’s a phenomenon that cripples independent thinking by its employees. And in practice, it becomes impossible to deal with new situations that take shape.
But the rapid changes that the world is going through make it vital to learn how to confront changing situations.
If a creative employee doesn’t get support from a manager who encourages and channels that vitality into positive places, the effectiveness of creativity is lost
Creative employee or creative manager?
So how can we integrate creativity in the organizational culture? How can we harness the employees’ creativity for the organization’s benefit?
It’s generally assumed that employees can’t be creative without a creative manager. To establish a winning organizational structure, the synergy between the various elements is vital. And if a creative employee doesn’t get support from a manager who encourages and channels that vitality into positive places, the effectiveness of creativity is lost. Creative managers know how to channel those capacities to the correct places – and enjoy the process. Less creative managers may feel threatened and reject new ideas – and that’s how those patterns stay entrenched.
Being a manager means leading change processes, and nurturing creativity and imagination among employees and management. Several benefits result from making that decision, and leading the process:
- Employees with vision maximize in-house skills, contribute creative ideas to leverage and streamline existing programs.
- Employees with daring can help minimize acute crisis – because they can find creative solutions for the problem, in real-time.
- Creative employees know how to exploit their own qualities and skills; they can offer their life experience (and professional experience) to the organization, can imagine possible scenarios, and find practical solutions for problems.
- Creative employees identify important opportunities for progress, take a calculated risk, and move ahead.
- Creative employees aren’t afraid to question organizational processes and “truths” that have taken root in the organization.
Dynamics of creativity in the workplace
Group dynamics is a key tool for fostering creativity among employees. Creative managers provide a space where employees can express the various personality aspects that can find expression in the workplace.
It’s worth bearing in mind that alongside gray, brown, and white colors – are red, orange, and yellow. Each shade is different and each one contributes its distinctive qualities to the whole colorful canvas. “Colorfulness” among employees enables a creative, open organization that has successfully adapted to the needs of a modern organizational structure.
We have to dare and test new things and give them expression in our own lives and the organization because, without a sprinkling of innovation and new experiences, we can never advance into new realms.