“Creativity is intelligence having fun”. – Albert Einstein
Meeting deadlines and delivering projects is important. Getting things done on time to compete with the existing competition is crucial. But the trick lies in the ability to do so while recreating and innovating within predefined resources and systems. That is what takes the cake!
Most organizations claim to foster creativity and look for innovators – yet there are not many that provide employees the much-needed atmosphere and opportunities.
If anything, in the attempt to getting things done quickly and error-free, employees are faced with intolerance to delays and risks, altogether. What more do you need for getting stuck in the same cycle of monotony, stifling your creative genius?
Having the words ‘intelligence’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence seem quite unlikely. Yet, this is what creates that recipe for success that organizations strive for and what customers yearn for. This is why it is important to cultivate a culture of innovation and productivity that can work towards a more engaged workforce.
Here are a few ways organizations tend to limit creativity and how to tackle that for a better flow to those creative juices, paving the road to innovation.
The perfect match
It is important to assess skillset and aptitude before assigning jobs to employees. Yet at times, organizations tend to decide their assignees and teams based on entirely different criteria e.g. duration of employment, lack of workload or, when it comes to freelance, requiring the least amount of pay.
This shows organizations tend to barter creativity for short term perks and that can take a toll in the long run. Assigning the job to the wrong person is the best way to kill creativity.
Take it from Yoram Solomon, Founder of Large Scale Creativity. According to Solomon, “Creativity happens in the intersection of expertise, creative thinking skills, and motivation.”
Employees need to feel involved and in control of the task assigned. When managers overlook the match between the job requirements and the employee skillset, they open the road to disappointment and monotony in projects and employees.
Freedom – or lack thereof
Giving employees freedom and space to implement ideas is key to boosting creativity. Employees should feel in control of the methodologies and processes they want to work in order to produce the best results.
Barbara Dyer is the president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation. She nailed it when she said, “Creativity thrives in an environment of disciplined chaos. The discipline begins with learning how to look at situations from multiple angles, removing blinders and opening possibilities. These are the tools of observation.”
Unfortunately, organizations tend to take that away either by continuously changing goals, micromanaging their work, shooting down new ideas continuously or indirectly communicating that new ideas aren’t welcome.
Sooner or later, this discourages the employees from voicing new ideas or trying new ways for better productivity.
While the art is to be able to do more with less, limiting resources beyond a level can impact creativity on unprecedented levels.
Creativity requires time and space. Restricting any of these with impossible deadlines or frequent interruptions leads to blocking imagination and innovation.
According to Microsoft UK’s Ryan Asdourian, “Helping people and workers improve their creativity is critical to the future of the UK economy, and many businesses and workplaces are not yet set up in ways that reward or foster this skill.”.
Imagination needs to be nourished by giving the employee enough opportunity to practice new ideas and new working methods. Asdourian further recommends equipping the workers with the right training and tools. This includes devices that enable employees to work where they are most creative yet still collaborate effectively i.e. diverse office spaces and a work-life balance for enough space.
Fear of Failure
Companies want results – ground-breaking results that come with zero tolerance for mistakes, let alone failure. Mistakes that can cause the organization embarrassment, project delays or even money.
This fear, in turn, is transferred to employees in the form of fear for their career or potential growth. And when that happens, the employee loses the motivation to try new processes, tools, and resources that can “potentially” cause such mistakes.
Sooner or later, employees don’t want to go beyond their comfort zone and prefer to stick to old routine methods. Like Jeff Diana, chief people officer at Atlassian, wrote in an article, “If everyone is worried that one false word or mistake might get them fired, how can they be creative?” He further adds, “Creativity is about taking risks. If it’s not supported, it’ll never happen.”
And rightly so. Although avoiding failure is important, employees need to be given the direction and space to bounce back – not an ultimatum. This not only promotes creativeness but also confidence in employees through trial, error and growth opportunities.
In the end, it’s about sprucing up things and keeping them interesting for you to latch on to something. As a project manager, things can get from boring to dull rather quickly. How does your organization promote creativity? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below.