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The Secrets of Workplace Creativity

Being creative should not be something you express only during the weekends. In this modern world, creativity and innovation are necessary for any organization seeking to maintain a sustained competitive edge. In a recent Global Innovation Survey, it was stated that “innovation is critical to growth, particularly as the speed of business cycles continues to increase”.[1]

Creative thinking is about coming up with new and innovative ways to think about the surrounding world and can be expressed in various ways. From having open-mindedness to creative communication, these types of thinkers are more likely to take risks, be innovate and come up with new and unique ways to do things. There are many different ways we can be creative, even in the workplace, further assisting and inspiring ourselves to come up with new ideas.

According to the World Economic Forum, it was predicted that by 2020, creativity will be one of the top 3 skills which employees will need in any career. Due to a constant increase of improvements in the way we work, employees will need to learn to be more creative to benefit from this constantly changing business world.

If your organization is looking for growth, tapping into creative energy is needed and will be essential in driving business forward. Encouraging and improving creativity will help employees come up with ways to address multiple challenges, while further reducing repetitive tasks.

Creativity in the workplace takes a practical approach in showing us how to choose particular practices that will help to achieve results and create added value in the organization. This way, employees can implement more creative work ideas to contribute invaluably to the organization.

A creative culture that supports both the ability to be creative and the willingness to take risks for creative work can make a difference in your organization — especially if you give employees the necessary tools to express it and have the time to play with their creative ideas while working.

Allowing employees to have time to think about different ideas and strategies to help your organization can be seen as one of the best ways to stimulate their creativity. An article from the Wall Street Journal found that 69% of millennials around the world had greater productivity in their work when they were giving flexible work arrangements. An example of being creative in the workplace is Google. Known as one of the most innovative and creative companies in the world, Google encourages their employees to spend 20% of their workday towards Google-related passion projects. This resulted in them coming up with unique projects, also known as Google’s 20 Percent Project, such as AdSense, Gmail and Google Chat.[2]

Create an environment that helps team members propose bold ideas by setting up special forums to promote creativity — such has workshops and team meetings. Employees have a higher chance of being creative when they are relaxed. Not allowing employees to express their creativity in the workplace may result in killing their desire to contribute their own ideas to the team. Managers should break away from everyday activities and be open to new ideas and concepts from their team. As creativity is not something one can finish, constantly find new ways to put you and your team’s creative muscles to use.[3]

Creating a creative process may further help to inspire your team to come up with more creative and innovative ideas. Creativity is not just what is created, but everything else in between — from coming up with the idea to implementing it.[4] One popular creative process is James Webb Young’s 5-step creative process.[5] This 5-step process involves gathering raw materials, digesting them mentally, unconsciously processing them, having insight on the idea, and finally developing it.

Gathering raw materials refers to research. Studying and understanding the topic at hand is an important starting point. Throughout the creative process, understand what you and your team want to accomplish through their efforts. Once thorough research is done, digesting these ideas are needed. Young describes this process as “harder to describe in concrete terms because it goes entirely on inside your head”,[6] as you would need to take what you have researched and look at it in different lights and see how it fits together. The next step that is needed is unconscious processing, where you take a step back and move on to other things, allowing your thoughts to process. Once these processes are done, take conscious effort to think about the idea proactively, connect all the dots, and proceed with it. Creative ideas will need constant refinement and constructive criticism for the idea to succeed. This 5-process creative journey needs both conscious and unconscious effort before proactively pursuing the idea.

If you have decided that you and your team are already creative and need ideas on how to boost creativity in your organization, try something new. When we explore different possibilities, we can learn how to implement these creative ideas that we have. Create an environment where everyone in the organization, regardless of position, can share and brainstorm their creative ideas and contribute further to the organization. Let your team perform creative exercises that will help to inspire and accelerate their creative process, be it writing, drawing, or even painting.

Look where creative people go to find inspiration — creative identity drives creative self. Create challenging and creative tasks to inspire a creative identity in your team and look for ways to present creative ideas.[7]

Authors Darren Nerland and Amanda Goh

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/how-we-help-clients/growth-and-innovation

[2] https://www.inc.com/bryan-adams/12-ways-to-encourage-more-free-thinking-and-innovation-into-any-business.html

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/feb/13/10-ways-to-enhance-creativity-at-work

[4] https://plan.io/blog/become-more-creative/

[5] https://pamdidner.com/james-webb-young-the-5-step-ideation-process-that-works/

[6] https://pamdidner.com/james-webb-young-the-5-step-ideation-process-that-works/

[7] https://medium.com/@jobairjaber/the-management-of-genuinely-creative-people-at-work-is-difficult-884d459cd540

Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Senior Strategist

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