Creativity is the New Productivity

Harnessing the power of creative thinking to lead innovation, inclusivity and collaboration.

There are countless lists and articles out there outlining the essential skills you need to succeed in the workplace of the future. Creativity is often at the top of that list, yet it can be an illusive skill that most people associate with artists, designers and other ‘creatives’. The fact is that humans are innately creative regardless of the field they are in and tapping into that creativity is more a science than an art. Here are some tips on harnessing the power of creativity at work.

Collaboration

Collaboration at its best is an organic interaction between individuals, ideas and a variety of stimuli towards a common goal.  True creativity is a synthesis and in order to optimize this at work, companies must allow for the time and space to play, converse and interact. Opportunities to collaborate are essential if organizations are to truly benefit from the pool of creative talent available to them. In his book Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Sawyer writes: “The more I observed creativity in action the more I realized that the most radical breakthroughs—including television, the airplane, e-mail, and even the board game Monopoly—emerged from a collaborative web that can’t be contained within any one company’s walls.”

Breakdown Hierarchies

An important element of creative collaboration is trust. Putting ideas out there can be intimidating for most employees. Fear of judgement, evaluation and internal hierarchical structures can get in the way. In order for workplaces to succeed in the innovation game they must normalize failure and get rid of hierarchies when participating in ideation activities, brainstorming or creative play. Collaborative engagement must have buy-in and participation from all levels of the organization. Great teams know that the next big idea can come from anywhere in the organization.

Space to Play

Innovative ideas often don’t come when we are engaged in routine. The physical space we occupy and what we do in that space are an important aspect of activating creative thinking. Oftentimes great ideas come when we are in a state of play- when we are circling a problem or a challenge without expecting to solve it but from a point of view of experimentation and discovery. This approach is very similar to the way children use play to learn, integrate and come up with creative ideas. Providing team members with either a designated space that promotes play or regular opportunities to engage in creative play, such as workshops, is essential for fostering this way of thinking.

Art

Studies have shown that workplaces that invest in ambiance and incorporate artwork see an increase in collaboration, inclusivity and productivity. These metrics have been quantified to as much as a 10% increase in productivity. A recent study published in the journal Brain and Cognition states: “After visiting an art museum, visitors show stronger critical thinking skills and are more socially tolerant.” The presence of artwork also encourages conversations that go outside of routine small talk- this is where creativity thrives.