“The best way to get people to flourish is to help them release their creativity”

I was looking for a good headline for this post and found that Ken Robinson already expressed the whole meaning in one line. Creativity is a matter of people thriving in their lives as well as at work, and that is how we create new opportunities and better solutions. 

Sometimes I see creativity used as a buzzword; we look for creative people when recruiting, and we need creative solutions at work. But my experience is that often we don’t really know what it means to be creative, why we need it so much or how to encourage creativity in our organisations. 

Let me start with the why: 

  • In our lives creativity helps us reconnect with ourselves, allows us to be present in the moment and create new opportunities. 
  • At work we need creative skills to make better solutions (and we are more fun to work with, and it is not easily replaced by robots). 

Creative thinking can be seen as the process of coming up with new ideas or developing new approaches. It requires that we let go of inhibitions and that takes courage and spaciousness. At work we should look for people who are able to use their knowledge and experience in a way that is not limited by it or by routines and habits.

Creative processes include curiosity, imagination, experiments, failures, learning, and continuous exploring. In the words of Ken Robinson; “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with something original”.

When we think of creativity at work, we should also consider how to make space for creative processes. Research has shown that the biggest obstacle to creativity is a busy mind – and yet we expect our employees to work 8+ hours deeply focused, running from meeting to meeting, having a lunch on the go and reply to e-mails at home in the evening. No wonder so many companys lack creative skills. (For guidance check out my post “Creative leaders manage for creativity”)

Another obstacle for creativity to flourish is the fact that we tend to become less creative as we grow up and gain experience and knowledge in a specific field. Good news is that we can train our creative skills and maintain a flexible mind that responds openminded to new ideas and challenges. My personal favourite is to go and explore the art world. The image above is from the iconic installation Your Rainbow Panorama by Olafur Eliasson at ARoS in my homecity, Aarhus (DK).  It changes our perception of the city, and both kids and adults are drawn by the colors and the feeling of walking inside a rainbow. I will come back with more about how to train your creative muscle in my next post. 

In the meantime I just want to share my favourite cartoon “Heart & Brain”. Sometimes a new perspective is all we need for creativity to flourish.


For more readings check out: 

George Land’s Creativity Test (1993) 

“What we have concluded is that non-creative behavior is learned.”

Ken Robinson: Out of our minds (2013)

And my best recommendations to Heart & Brain at http://theawkwardyeti.com/

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