March, 1997 - Creativity at Work
Creativity at Work
Our March newsletter focuses on the topic of Creativity. In coming months, we will explore the other Seven Principles in more depth. (We define Creativity as one of the Seven Principles of Spirituality in the Workplace - ways we can become more human and more humane. The Seven Principles are: Creativity, Communication, Respect, Partnership, Flexibility, Energy and Vision.)
Creativity includes the use of color, laughter and freedom to enhance productivity. Creativity is fun. When people enjoy what they do, they work much harder.
Creativity includes conscious efforts to see things differently, to break out of habits and out-dated beliefs to find new ways of thinking, doing and being. Creativity is a natural, normal aspect of healthy human beings.
Suppression of creativity leads to violence. People are naturally creative. When they are forced to crush their creativity, its energy force turns to destructive release. Their inherent humanity must express itself!
Unlocking natural creativity - Everyone is creative!
People create things and ideas every day. Often, people create worry and negative imaginations - images of things that will never happen. These worries provide a diversion to the harsh reality that exists in some companies. These worries and the stress of trying to function in a hostile environment, deplete the creativity that could be channeled into positive forms.
For example, the company grapevine/rumor mill is a prime example of the use of creativity. The stimulation provided by learning about possible outcomes creates excitement and emotional energy. Whether the rumors are actually true or not does not lessen their impact. They provide a way for people to become energized and emotionally connected with the fellow workers. The ensuing discussions provide more opportunity for people to have a reason to work together, to have social contact and to build a bond of common understanding.
Suppose that the energy expended in dealing with the rumor mill was focused toward creating new products or new services. Or, that it was focused on solving the everyday challenges that face every business.
Ask yourself: Would my company be better off if employee's creativity energy could be re-focused in highly productive ways?
Tips for Encouraging Creativity at Work
Share with others
One way I help people in our organization focus on creativity is by maintaining a network for people interested in creativity and send them a monthly newsletter on gems I pick up related to creativity. It is strictly a voluntary effort on my part, yet many people in the organization subscribe to the newsletter. Everything is handled electronically. . . . Creativity is one issue that will stay in the forefront. It is not a fad like TQM, Reengineering, etc. Without creativity, organizations will not succeed or be successful. Employees need an environment that nurtures creativity. Karl Mettke (kmettke [at] aol.com), Employee Relations Specialist, USDA Forest Service, Eastern Regional Office, Milwaukee, WI (414) 297-3264.
Use brain-storming techniques
Well-known methods include mind-mapping.
Abbreviated example of the mind-map used to develop this newsletter:
Work with others in problem-solving sessions. The combined energy often breaks through an individual's blocks.
Consciously shift your focus and look at the situation in a different way. See how many different answers you can find to solve the problem at hand (set a goal of 50 to force you to go beyond just the easy, obvious solutions).
Travel to different places and different cultures. When stumped for answers, imagine how someone in another country (or another planet) might deal with your challenge.
Use laughter and humor to unlock vital energy
Read Dilbert's cartoons or books for tips on seeing the humor in ordinary business situations (that's why we include humor in our newsletters on a regular basis).
"Creative thinking may simply mean the realization that there is no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done" - Rudolph Flesh (from Enchanted Mind - Random Acts of Silliness).
Develop habits of creativity
Place notes or cartoons around your working space to remind you to lighten up!
Decorate your workspace with color or creative images.
Use color in your work. Wear bright colors or something unusual when you are trying to enhance your creativity. Use colored markers, pens or pencils when brain-storming.
Play inspiring music that will exercise your emotions and help you produce creative images.
Take a walk to loosen up your body and your mind, preferably outdoors. Sit by a fountain near your office or find a grassy spot and listen to the birds for a 5-minute creativity break. Allow your mind to simply take in the beauty of nature while putting your immediate challenge aside. You may find that your brain will provide some interesting solutions on the walk back to the office.
Sleep on the problem. Go to bed with the request that your unconscious mind develop a solution and give it to you when you wake up. Allow your physical body to rest while your unconscious goes away to create answers. Keep a pencil and paper next to your bed and write down your thoughts when you wake up (or in the middle of the night when your dreams reveal something important).
Use your resources
When facing a particular challenge or problem, get on the Internet and see what you can find that addresses your needs (creativity resources).
Open a dictionary or thesaurus at random, and see how the words you find might be used to find solutions.
Treat your body and mind with respect
Keep your body, mind and spirit healthy. Drugs and alcohol numb the senses. Over-work and hostile environments deplete your physical and mental resources. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting plenty of rest keeps you healthy and provides reserves of energy when needed.
Know yourself and your co-workers
The Personality Game is a fun way to learn about personality types and their unique - and often quirky - traits. This can be used as an exercise in creativity and learning to see the world in new and different ways (Rules to Play).
Creativity at Work
Books we highly recommend
Internet Creativity Sites
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