CREATIVITY: YOUR SECRET WEAPON

Many successful artists today also have full-time "day" jobs; business careers that help to keep them in paint, brushes and canvas. Although many of us would love to pack in our pinstripes for painting overalls, we have learned to survive, and indeed thrive, in the business environment. At first glance, the creative, artistic right-brain pursuits of the artist may seem to be diametrically opposed to the left-brain demands of the corporate world. However, a closer examination of some of the most successful, highly creative business people, reveals a common trait: they've become "Workplace Artists" who use creativity as a "secret weapon" for success.

How Do You Define Creativity? ( I + C = Cr )

I believe that creativity is a simple equation with a very complex impact. The first element in the equation is IMAGINATION. We all have the ability to conjure up images in our minds, and are capable of creating those images on our own, without ever having seen them before. (Quick, think of your high school principal in a purple bikini!) The second element in the creativity equation is CURIOSITY. Artists and creative thinkers all share an inherently inquisitive nature. They're curious about how things work. They ask "what if", and wonder why things are the way they are, and how they could be different. Put these two gifts together, and you achieve something that is larger than the sum of it's parts: IMAGINATION + CURIOSITY = CREATIVITY ( I + C = Cr )

Creativity Is A Powerful Resource

Generative research has shown that, despite what some people may believe about themselves, everyone has creative abilities, and the more you use it, the greater your potential for creative output. The Workplace Artist uses this knowledge to facilitate development of ideas, brainstorming, problem-solving, and communication, in a unique and creative way.

We've all heard the tired old phrase "think outside of the box", but what does that really mean to the Workplace Artist? I came across a piece of research recently that illustrates it perfectly. In a controlled experiment, researchers presented a series of simple problems to a control group of both adults and children, and asked them to think of as many solutions to the problem as possible. The average adult thought of 3-6 possible solutions for any given problem. The average child thought of 60. That's because children don't censor themselves by what's "not possible". Research has shown that when it comes to creativity, quantity equals quality: the longer the list of ideas generated, the higher the quality of the final solution.

However, as many of us realize, creativity is also an individual process. Traditional brainstorming can often be ineffective due to participants' fear of social disapproval. The Workplace Artist can play a key role in facilitating a fun, safe and creative environment.

Catalyst for Change

Insanity can be defined as "applying the same solution to the same problem, and expecting a different outcome". And yet, we've too often heard "We've always done it this way". By taking a more creative approach to achieving our goals, this old excuse can no longer stand as a corporate methodology. Workers who are exposed to a creative environment will begin to work more creatively. Soon new ideas, methodologies, solutions and partnerships will emerge. Got an old problem? Try a new solution! The Workplace Artist uses creative ingenuity, intuition, and passion, to be a catalyst for change. This helps the group to achieve business goals, and in turn brings success & career satisfaction to the artist.

Achieve Business Results

When a team of people shares the creative journey toward an objective, they also share the common history of how the solution was achieved. That common understanding facilitates buy-in, and a sense of team accomplishment. When you help your colleagues to discover their hidden creative talents, either by setting the example, or through facilitated sessions, you solve more problems, resolve more conflicts, and motivate for achievement of business results.

Flex Your Creativity Muscles

There is an infinite number of ways to exercise your creativity at work. Here are three of my favourites:

Kick off a meeting with a game that encourages fun and participation, such as the Secret Circle. Whisper the title of the discussion topic to the person next to you. They whisper it to the next person, and so on. The last person in the circle tells the group aloud what he thinks the original phrase was. This is a lot of fun, and can be a terrific creativity ice-breaker.

When brainstorming, draw icons representing your ideas on a large white board or flip chart, with each person connecting their icon to the previous one in the form of a drawing (stick figures count, too!). You will end up with a collective "mind map" that is fun to create, and highly useful to the team.

Move your team meeting to an unusual location - like your backyard pool! Then free-form an exchange of ideas while floating on pool noodles - you'll be amazed at the unique new perspective you'll gain!

Whatever method you choose to get "out of the box", learn to harness the tremendous creative potential that these powerful techniques can provide.

Living An Authentic Creative Life

Developing and demonstrating your creativity at work will deliver a feeling of satisfaction, and a sense of authenticity at work. Through creativity, you build a sense of team cohesion, not fragmentation, and facilitate cooperation, not competition. In becoming more authentic, you and your colleagues become more productive, and better able to achieve excellence in your work.

So the next time an opportunity presents itself at the office, take up the creativity challenge: Apply the ( I + C = Cr ) equation to your next objective, and become a Workplace Artist!


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Art Designs by Leslie Rohonczy