Creativity at Work

Before you read through, use the questions below to gage your current relationship with Creativity. You may want to write down your answers, or just allow yourself some time to think through your answers.

When you hear the word creativity, what comes to mind?

How often do you have creative ideas?

Do you make time for creativity?

Is creativity praised in your workplace?

Who is the most creative person you know? What makes them creative? 

Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something. Why should you care about creativity? Well, studies show that people are more likely to feel happy or active if they’re doing something creative. Creativity has also been shown to reduce stress, improve problem solving skills, as well as pave the path to authenticity and self-awareness. 

Most people will tell you they either are or are not creative as if it was definitive, but creativity is actually a skill, and the wonderful thing about any skill is that it can be taught, learned, and practiced. 

Creativity was broken down into four steps by British Psychologist, Graham Wallis. 

  1. Preparation

In the first step, you will gather materials, resources or insights on what you’re trying to achieve or sources of inspiration for your upcoming project. 

  1. Incubation

Now, you will let your ideas marinate in your mind and allow yourself to brainstorm freely. 

  1. Illumination

This is when the idea you’ve been looking for presents itself to you. The “light-bulb moment”, which may come out of no-where, is what most people want to jump to without going through the first two steps.

  1. Verification 

Your idea has now come to life. You make the plan, write the story or get paint on paper. You can then hone and refine your idea as you continue to work on it. 

Looking at the creative process this way can help us see creativity more clearly, and show us that there’s more organised action required than we may have realised.

How can you bring creativity into your workplace? 

Do more writing, drawing or colouring. 

So much of our worlds are seen or processed through a screen, especially when working. When our attention is constantly pulled towards a notification, email or message on our digital devices, our brains don’t get a chance to day dream which is proven in this study to help boost creativity.

Three ways to do it:

  1. Planning out your day / week / month in a paper diary.
  2. Free writing for five minutes at the start or end of your work week.
  3. Invite your team members to present their ideas at your next meeting via markers and flip – chart rather than PowerPoint presentation.
Recognise and reward creativity in problem solving. 

To “think outside the box” when coming across a challenge in an organisation can be challenging, especially if there are no examples of it happening already. Keep creativity at the top of your team’s mind by recognising those who are utilising it to solve problems. Expect innovation and seek out cases of this in your and other companies to keep your team inspired. 

Three ways to do it:

  1. Invite your team to share examples of creativity they noticed from other team members at your next meeting. Make this a routine, and your team will be more likely to recognise creativity when it’s happening, and also try it out for themselves. 
  2. Try the “20 ideas” challenge with your team. The next time you have a problem, challenge your team to come up with 20 possible solutions. Even if 99% of these solutions aren’t realistic, allow your team to work together to brainstorm and get creative. More than likely you will find the answer you need, and at the very least will have a great bonding session using creativity as the link.
  3. Encourage your team to share their ideas. Someone in your team may already have the answer your company needs, or has the ability to create it. Encourage your team to keep talking, brainstorming, and collaborating with each other. 
Change your environment.

Getting caught up in the same conversations with the same people, and having the same thoughts can limit our perspective. Why not try to inspire something different? In order to spark new insights, sometimes we need a new surrounding. Keeping our environment “fresh” can help us to gain a new outlook. 

Three ways to do it:

  1. Rearrange your office or desk. If you can’t rearrange because of space limitations, then add more décor or do some clearing of items you no longer use. 
  2. Hold your monthly meeting in a different location, or go for a walk with your colleague instead of catching up in the office. 
  3. Take a different route to work, or try a different place for lunch. Do this with the intent to observe your surroundings, and see what comes up for you. You may be surprised.

Big Magic Author, Elizabeth Gilbert said “It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.” 

In order to challenge, engage, and improve your team or yourself, try incorporating creativity today. 

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