When I hear the word “creativity,” I usually think of finger paints and crayons. But creativity encompasses much more than art and imagination.
As Crayola puts it, “Every business requires creative thinkers in the form of scientists, engineers, medical researchers, technology innovators, business entrepreneurs, artists, performers, writers and illustrators, designers, inventors, educators and parents. Those with the ability to ‘think outside of the box’ will lead the future and make special things happen.”
A chemist who uses her expertise to develop a new drug is just as creative as a musician who composes a new melody. Creativity lies in the ability to deviate from the mold, and can be just as intellectual as artistic.
Research shows that the ability to create relies heavily on the ability to relax and the freedom to fail. Ever wonder why some of your best ideas happen when you’re taking a walk or brushing your teeth? When people are relaxed, they can truly be themselves and are unafraid to take a stab in the dark or suggest new ideas. Fostering an environment where this is possible is not difficult, but it takes intentionality.
Here are a few ideas you can implement at your office:
- Paint the walls with fun colors. Allow employees to pick their office paints. (Studies have shown that people who work in rooms painted blue produce more creativity, and those in rooms painted red are more intensely focused.)
- Play music.
- Provide a suggestion box, and implement the suggestions.
- Have fun at work. Take the whole office to a park for lunch. Or send a weekly email with a joke.
- Assign end goals, but give freedom for means of reaching goals. As Teresa Amabile (Harvard Business Review) put it, “Tell them which mountain to climb, not how to climb it.”
Creativity does not have to be restricted to artistic types. Relax and have a little fun at the office. See what innovative ideas your company comes up with. Don’t be afraid to break from the mold and try something new.
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