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Creativity in the Work Place

Creativity in the Work Place

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” – Anna Freud

In today’s competitive world, it is more important than ever for businesses to attract and keep highly talented people. In order to do that, they must provide a work place environment that is challenging, creative, and fun. Since creativity is at the root of innovation and invention, it would behoove all companies – large, small, or in between – to help promote a creative atmosphere in which this talent may flourish. What better way to get a huge return on their investment?
A two-year in-house creativity course offered at General Electric resulted in a sixty percent increase in concepts available for patents, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In 1999, after investing over two million dollars in research and development, Hewlett Packard generated more than 1,300 applications for patents.
When the Sylvania Company offered several thousand employees a forty-hour creative problem-solving course, their return on investment came to $20 for every $1 they spent.
So how can your company keep its employees happily coming up with great, innovative ideas?
•    Look for these creative people. Recognize them for the intelligent innovators that they are.
•    Create an atmosphere that’s conducive to creativity. You need to let the ideas come forth and thrive. Be tolerant about ideas that don’t work out initially. There’s always a next time when more fresh ideas can be implemented.
•    Acknowledge the people in the company who generate new ideas. It’s important to foster that creativity and show visible support. Champion those innovators!
•    Reward the creators with public recognition, monetary rewards, or both.
The workers and the managers should bring about creative changes in the company together, shaping a fellowship that allows for a feeling of safety for those creative ideas. It should provide an environment where people can feel secure about expressing those ideas, without being fearful of criticism or ridicule.
The feelings of respect and trust for one another will foster inspiration, and dismiss any negativity or critical judgments. The perfect atmosphere would be one of encouragement, motivation, good training, and lots of opportunities to be creative. This would provide the necessary creativity to the organizational level.
No longer would you go to a work place that fills you with dread each day. The job that provides you with money for food, clothing, and shelter, not to mention a few luxuries, could also be a pleasant haven during the workday. You’d have security and status, but without so much stress. If your creativity is allowed to blossom, your heart and soul for your career returns as well. This could change the face of the work place. Implement this yourself and see if you can make a change for the better in your own workplace.
Many companies try to avoid putting creativity back into the work place. They feel it could lead to chaos. They say that it would be illogical, unruly, and uncontrollable. This needn’t be the case, if approached in the proper manner.
If you encourage creativity within your company and support the talented people, it will help you compete, regardless of your industry. According to Fortune Magazine (January 1998), highly motivated employees are up to 127% more productive than those averagely motivated employees in complex jobs. It’s simple – if an employee feels satisfied and encouraged in his job and happy with the company, he will become more motivated and thereby become more productive. A happy worker is a productive worker!
Unfortunately, our country has become a nation of workaholics. We feel if we’re not busy 24/7, we must be slacking off; we must produce nonstop or other people will think that we’re lazy. But busyness for its own sake is a sign of low self-worth and should be avoided. Even God rested after working for six days.
It’s okay to sit and do nothing once in a while. Sometimes, you have to let a problem sit awhile and incubate in your mind. The answer will come more easily if you stop obsessing about it.  Even daydreaming is useful. If you allow your child to daydream, they will develop a higher IQ. Why not do the same for yourself? Remember too, that play is just as important for an adult as it is for a child.
Believe it or not, the number one concern of employees at any level of a company is not money, but the desire for a good balance between their work life and their personal life. In order for good employees to keep up with the level expected of them, they must attain a certain balance of work and play. Vacations, occasional personal time, and a pleasant work place are essential for their careers and their health.
There’s a Zen saying that the bow kept forever taut will break. This is very true. We need to play and relax in order to be productive. Play, even at our work place, makes us happy and joyful. It clears those cobwebs out of the brain and allows us to think more clearly, thus becoming more productive. The problems that seemed beyond your reach while brainstorming might come so much easier when your mind is free of stress and worry.
Creativity and play are essential these days. We’re all looking for more purpose in our lives, and we’re beginning to re-think our jobs and careers as well. Job security is a thing of the past; and unless employers begin to recognize and encourage creativity on the job, there could be radical changes coming.
In many companies, smart employers are beginning to see the advantage of closely-knit teams working together to form creative, problem-solving forces. They’ve begun using a more open kind of office, omitting walls between the departments. They’re making use of more computers and other forms of communication with each other. Department heads are working more closely with the lower levels, so they are aware of what’s happening at all times. The chain of command is made simpler, responsibilities are expanded, and creative and innovative ideas are welcomed and encouraged.
In any job or profession, there are problems to be solved; and where there is problem solving, there will be creative thought. The first step to solving a problem is to know everything you can possibly know about the problem. You must know how it started and what caused it. Get hold of all pertinent information.
Start to look at all the facts. Figure out how they fit together. Sometimes, you’ll find that unlikely elements can start to make some sense together. Try not to fall into what scientists jokingly refer to as “psycho sclerosis” or hardening of the attitudes. This just means not falling back into the “this is the way we’ve always done it” syndrome. If it has always been done that way, why is there a problem with it now? Obviously, it isn’t working now, so it’s time to figure out a new way to do things.
Watch out for the notorious “inner critic.” (More about that in another chapter.) This is simply that little voice in your head that tells you it’s impossible for you to solve this problem. It’s the old “if others haven’t been able to solve this muddle, what makes you think you can?” critic. Disregard this voice. Unfortunately, you might also hear this selfsame voice coming from others as well. Remember the words of Mark Twain, who said, “The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”
Watch out too for the frustration that can come at you. Long hours of preparation and anguish, when the answer doesn’t present itself, can often lead to total frustration with the whole project. You just want to throw up your hands and yell, “I quit!” But don’t! That’s just the “darkness before the dawn,” as they say. Stay persistent. The answer is out there and you’ll find it; just don’t give up. It’s not that a problem is unsolvable; sometimes, people just give up too quickly.
Sometimes, you just have to let that thought simmer in your brain for a while, let things gel a bit. Maybe you just need to “sleep on it.” Let your subconscious work on it for the night. (More on the subconscious in another chapter.)
Often times, going on about your usual business, getting ready for work, showering, and shaving will break the dam and the brilliant ideas just pop to the surface of your brain. A long walk or a drive in the country will make all the difference. You just need to relax and let those ideas simmer in your brain until they’re done. Maybe it’s time to play!
Try to take a break often during your day and let your mind rest a bit. Our world is encroaching on our thinking time, all during the day. Your boss, associates, teachers, students, even television, all want to tell you what you should be doing, every minute of the day. Sometimes, you just need a break from all the mind controlling going on and think your own thoughts.
Whether it’s on the job or at home with your family, the creativity you possess is a vital tool in your life. Have faith in your own creativity. Don’t be so hard on yourself if things don’t work the first time. Be an observant human, watch everything, learn, and don’t be afraid to ask the dumb questions. You know what they say – the only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask.

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About Leon Edward

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