• Tamar Balkin

How Can I Increase Creativity At Work?



Photo by Blaz Erzetic on Unsplash


Readers would be acutely aware of the pressing need for increased innovation at work. However we often don't pause to think about creating the right conditions and making the time to allow for it to occur. Recent experiments found that the initial 20 ideas people generated were the most conventional. Once they had thought of those, they were free to start dreaming up unconventional possibilities. So if you want your team to generate out of the box ideas remember you will need time and the internal and external conditions. Research suggests that there is no single magical idea that makes the whole creative process work. The ideas in this blog may help to create the moments of illumination that redirect thought or inspire exploration, but that illumination tends to start the process, not end it. What aspects of Organisational culture are critical for creativity?  Typically people tend not to share new ideas or suggestions for fear they are seen as:

  • Ignorant

  • Incompetent

  • Overly negative

  • Disruptive

Research has demonstrated that a  culture of psychological safety is the essential foundation for creativity. When you create Psychological safety in your organisation people feel they won’t be punished or humiliated for asking questions, challenging norms, talking about what is and isn’t working, expressing concerns and experimenting with unproven actions.  Remember Psychological Safety isn’t group cohesion, rather it’s an environment where people are supported to respectfully challenge each other, the status quo, to have debate and take risks. Interestingly, in the fields of scientific research, manufacturing and IT 'prototypes' are common. The prototype approach enables the testing of a product and where failure is perceived as an opportunity  for improvement. In a psychologically safe workplace people can create and test “safe to fail experiments” for their ideas and plans. Thus enabling constructive debate, more analysis and idea generation, typically resulting in long term superior results. Is there something special about what creative people do?  Research has demonstrated that creative experts tend to have broader interests and greater versatility compared to their less creative expert colleagues. As the psychologist Howard Gruber has shown, rather than a dogged single pursuit of a single research question, the most creative scientists throughout history engaged in "networks of enterprise", where they pursued a large number of loosely related projects. So if you are a specialist and you want to broaden your interests or perspective try bringing others who may seem to do completely unrelated work into your problem solving process.  On a daily basis our brains are exposed to lots of information from, our senses, mental images, memories and even the thoughts that just pop to mind. So to avoid overload we are wired to filter out information. Research suggests that highly creative people let more information come through those filters so that they can combine and re combine this data in novel and original ways.  Finally, creative people seem to have cognitive flexibility, that is the ability to take old information and adapt it to a new context. According to Adam Grant,  to be original you don't have to be first,  just different and better. Where do emotions fit in? While the research isn’t yet conclusive, there’s an increasing body of work indicating that  positive feelings may expand up the capacity of our creativity. At a physiological level, laughing releases dopamine, one of the brain’s feel-good reward hormones. That means you grow less critical of your ideas, which allows for more of them to emerge.  As our world view expands, we become more flexible, innovative, and creative and are able to see solutions we would not normally identify. “Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking,”   “If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you to do that.” Nadler Regular readers may be aware that of the circular relationship between creativity and positive mood, as engaging in creative activity improves your mood and wellbeing. “Even though personal creativity may not lead to fame and fortune, it can do something that from the individuals’ point of view is even more important: make day to day experiences more vivid, more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery.” Czikszentmihalyi For those who want a fun way to lift the energy of your team,  why dont you share this Spotify playlist of all the songs I have referenced in my blogs. Where does motivation fit into creativity? Motivation appears to be a central factor in creativity. Having a clear understanding of the purpose of a creative project is fundamental. However,  please remember from my blog last week, you can't impose your purpose on others, it is an emotional connection to the impact your work has on the world. Interestingly it is our intrinsic motivation that is conducive to and strongly associated with our creative abilities. A key  component of intrinsic motivation, according to self-determination theory, is the belief in one’s competence. Original  thinkers, are confident in their  ability to be creative and solve problems yet they doubt the ideas they generate. This doubt pushes them to critique their ideas and provides motivation  to keep generating better options. A final thought:    Do not  look  or push for that quick lightbulb moment. Early researchers found that  “creative work is not a matter of milliseconds, minutes, or even hours but of months, years, and decades". “In the heat of the moment small advances feel great, and the one’s that turn out to be crucial slip in quietly” Gruber Finally, thank you to my nieces for introducing me to the inspiring  podcast, "How I Built This" , in which Guy Raz  chats to well known innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists about the creative ideas they have had and businesses they have built.  As always please be in touch if you or anyone in your network would benefit from coaching or a comprehensive wellbeing assessment or if you want to just catch up Have good afternoon, kind regards Tamar Having always worked with interstate and international clients via phone or video, alI coaching is continuing _______________ 0400 808 492 tamar@balkincoaching.com.au www.balkincoaching.com.au twitter@tamarbalkin  ---------- Please click here if you would like to read my past  blogs.   -----------------------------------

References: 


Pamela Allen: Mr. Archimedes' Bath


https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/fasttimes/have-you-made-it-safe-to-fail


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrfNOg-sTKo

Kounios, J. and Beeman, M. (2014). The Cognitive Neuroscience of Insight. Annual Review of Psychology, 65(1), pp.71–93.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/aa54/541387b30980f27e85d2d68cb3fc10d3aa66.pdf


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwTlbehPDbI


Mathias Benedek, Fabiola Franz, Moritz Heene, Aljoscha C.Neubauer Differential effects of cognitive inhibition and intelligence on creativity, Personality and Individual Differences Volume 53, Issue 4, September 2012, Pages 480-485

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.04.014


Creative Work: On the Method of Howard Gruber

https://docuri.com/download/creativework_59c1d024f581710b286429ba_pdf


Grant A ( 2016) Originals


https://www.forbes.com/sites/jurgenappelo/2016/04/03/create-a-safe-to-fail-environment/#1a2674d110d8

Lucas, B. J., & Nordgren, L. F. (2015). People underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(2), 232–243. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000030


The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth By: Amy C. Edmondson


Woodman, R.W., Sawyer, J.E. and Griffin, R.W. (1993), "Toward a theory of organizational creativity", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 293-321.


Placebo can enhance creativity, Rozenkrantz, Liron; Mayo, Avraham E; Tomer Ilan; Hart, Yuval; Noy, Lior; et al.PLoS One; San Francisco Vol. 12, Iss. 9,  (Sep 2017)


Creativity Is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice, Scientific American

By Scott Barry Kaufman on April 17, 2016


https://www.fastcompany.com/3025994/watch-this-baby-video-its-good-for-your-creativity

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