Eureka! Unlocking Creative Potential

Be honest. When do you get most of your brilliant ideas? Is it when you are sitting behind your desk with a deadline? Or doing something unrelated like, driving, going on Facebook- or like our friend here- whilst taking a bath? Is it even essential to get these creative ideas?

Present day we are living in a world where things are constantly changing. Think about this, in 1994 Honey I shrunk the Audience, was a 3D movie that could only be seen at Disney theme parks. Now, we have the ability to watch 3D movies at home.I don’t know about you, but when I was in elementary school teachers took attendance and we were required to raise our hands to answer a question (obviously only one person could answer at a time). But in 2005, the iClicker was invented, allowing teachers to quickly poll students and have the entire class answer questions simultaneously (it made classes a lot more fun too) (Dunn, 2011). Now the job market, well in 2010 the top 10 in demand jobs did not even exist in 2004. Bottom line, the world is changing. But what does it have to do with  us?

To give you a brief idea,  Canada has a growing population of Chinese and South Asian immigrants. According to The Globe and Mail, Toronto alone is expecting this population to triple by 2031 (Gee, 2011).  So as expressed in the video “Did You Know?”  if you are one in a million, in China there are 1300 people just like you. Moreover, 25% of India’s population with the highest IQ is greater than the total population of the United States. This means, without our creative ideas, WE ARE REPLACEABLE!!!  Those who want to be ahead of the curve, have to be visionary, as those businesses and individuals who are lost in  their tunnel vision are only going to be left behind. Just as it is essential to be a creative individual to get those well paid jobs, in the words of former IBM chief executive, Thomas J. Watson, “… the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can be very often traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people” ( n.d., 2012). Encouraging creativity at work  is good for attracting and retaining good quality employees as well as ensuring that those creative ideas stay under your roof instead of being taken to other organizations.

The company Google, understands the importance of creative thinking, but like Steven Johnson, they believe it is a collaborative effort; meaning that we need to collaborate our ideas with others in order to create and invent something greater (Click here for Steven Johnson’s video).  In “The Eight Pillars of Innovation”, Susan Wojcicki discusses some of Google’s methods for creativity and innovation, while explaining that with a fast evolving market, Google, recruits people who are creative and believe that the impossible can become possible. Susan further explains that Google, looks for innovative ideas through all mediums:

” Several years ago, we took this quite literally and posted an ideas board on a wall at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. On a Friday night, an engineer went to the board and wrote down the details of a convoluted problem we had with our ads system. A group of Googlers lacking exciting plans for the evening began re-writing the algorithm within hours and had solved the problem by Tuesday.”

 Google, understands that most people are at their creative peak when they work on tasks unrelated to that assigned. Therefore, in order to fuel their employee’s creative potential, they implemented the “20 Percent Time program”, which permits employees to utilize up to 20% of their work week (~1 day for per week’s work) to pursue projects unrelated to those assigned. Google claims, that many of their products in Google Labs began as ideas during the “20 Percent Time” period (Strickland, 2011).

Today, many organizations turn to workplace innovation programs with the belief that creativity is one of the keys to competitive survival. In the article, “Training and Development in Australia: Finding Your Creative Potential”, an interesting method of fostering creativity is to have musical workshops. The aim of singing together as a team is to be able to find one’s own voice, as well as to understand and interpret that of other teammates- as voice is vital for presenting, influencing others and being heard (de Jong , 1). Upon taking a musical workshop in Melbourne, a member of the Focus Group explained  his experience: ” we were challenged and inspired to think beyond the usual bounds of leadership style by taking a journey of breath, chant and song. It affirmed for many that if allowed, creativity can and will ‘create’ great leaders.” Music programs are believed to benefit organizations as a whole through their employees. The article further states that musical expression heightens well-being, emotional expression and self-awareness. And therefore, once an employee has found their self-expression, they would be confident and capable of going beyond their previous limitations.

As one can see, with the rapid change our world is experiencing, it is important for both individual’s and organization’s creative potential tobe recognized and utilized. My question for you is, What are some ways you foster your creativity? Or how and when do you find yourself most creative and open to new ideas?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Sources:

Gee, M. (n.d.). South Asian immigrants are transforming Toronto – The Globe and Mail. Home – The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/marcus-gee/south-asian-immigrants-are-transforming-toronto/article2085267/?service=mobile
Google. (n.d.). The Eight Pillars of Innovation | Think Quarterly by Google. Think with Google – Your resource for industry trends & insights. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/quarterly/innovation/8-pillars-of-innovation.html
Harnessing the Creative Potential of the Workforce – Talent Management magazine. (n.d.). Talent Management magazine. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from http://talentmgt.com/articles/view/_harnessing_the_creative_potential_of_the_workforce_/3
de Jong, T. (2010). Training & Development In Australia. Finding Your Creative Potential Journal, 1-2.
Strickland, J. (n.d.). HowStuffWorks “Google Employee Perks”. HowStuffWorks “Computer”. Retrieved June 24, 2012, from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/googleplex3.htm
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7 thoughts on “Eureka! Unlocking Creative Potential

  1. I really enjoyed your post Clarissa! Creativity is so important in the environment where companies are looking to make money faster, cheaper, and with less people involved. I have recently read a book called “The 4-hour Workweek” and the outsourcing labour to India was a big money saving point. You can hire anyone you want overseas, and their productivity, creativity, and desire to work will be much higher than in North American workers.
    Getting back to your question on when I feel more creative, I have to say when I don’t feel the pressure. Whether it is a pressure of time or the pressure to perform. I paint, and painting is a very creative process that can’t have any kind of pressure involved. I will find the quite day, most of the time on my vacation, when I do not have to rush, and paint away. I find that I am most creative on my vacation, during travelling, and when my creativity is not evaluated in any way.

    -Anastasia

  2. rheannafaedo says:

    Great post!! I definitely agree that creativity and innovation are critical for organizational success and long-term prosperity, especially in today’s competitive markets. Organizations that promote creativity allow employees to think beyond existing boundaries to discover new solutions and alternatives. According to research creativity enables organizations to adjust to shifting environmental conditions to maintain a competitive advantage.

    Also, creativity is a necessary precondition required for successful implementation of innovation. “The extent of creativity is measured by the number of new ideas generated, whereas the success of innovation is judged by the practical value it brings about” (Chang, 2008). Everyone in an organization has the potential to be creative and creativity can come from anywhere within the organization such as employees, supervisors, and managers. Organizations must place high emphasis on how to effectively use the creative potential of their employees to achieve long-term success and profitability.

    To answer your questions, some of the ways I foster creativity is by doing a lot of observation and writing. I enjoy observing the world and the people in it, which helps me with inspiration. I also get a lot of inspiration and creativity from writing, similar to warming up before playing a sport, writing for me is my warm up to help get the inspirations and creativity flowing.

    References

    Chang, C. (2008). Engaging the Creative Minds – The Engage Models. International Journal of Innovation & Technology Management, 149-165.

  3. Thanks for the responses. Anastasia, I completely agree with you, I too paint, and when pressured I find it difficult to be creative. I actually dread painting and doing anything for that matter under pressure- what I’d generally consider a fun and relaxing activity, under pressure becomes a burden . As for outsourcing in India, it is very true, many companies are currently using India for their call centers. India, Bangalore in particular, is a hub for information technology, specializing in research and development of electronics and software; it is referred to as “Silicon Valley” after the one in the US- which further suggests businesses moving abroad.

    Thank you rheannafaedo, based on your post I could tell you are a writer. The points you brought up are very insightful and practical. Being creative is essential for multiple reasons for instance, like you said, it helps organizations adjust to shifting environments. Which further emphasizes how important it is for an individual to be creative and open minded, because organizations adjust with or without the consent of all its employees (n order to stay competitive) which means, if an employee wants to maintain their success in the company, it is critical that they too learn to adjust and find creative ways of doing so.

    thanks again for your comments.

  4. I definitely agree creativity is crucial to staying ahead of the game in business, I mean how could I not? ;) But the biggest question that we’re all trying to figure out is how to best extract the creative juices from our convoluted minds?!?

    It’s interesting to me how different the means are for different people. For many, a fun activity, peace, comfort, and/or relaxation is needed. But I have come to find in my work and school experiences, these options aren’t always available. In many cases, when I have a lot of time to do a project, I don’t really get started until the end. Procrastination probably isn’t the best strategy, but I do find the element of a time constraint motivates me greatly and some of my most creative, best work has come while the pressure was on and I was “under the gun.” Rajan Khaira wrote a related blog on Creativity where he discusses how this element of constrained time adds to task motivation and can produce creativity.

    Hopefully this observation might present some interesting debate as to the different types of creative motivation needed for different individuals. Great article Clarissa!

    Related Blog:

    http://rajankhaira.wordpress.com/

  5. That’s interesting Alex. Actually, come to think of it, many of my friends are like that, especially those who are extroverted. I wonder if there is a correlation between extroversion/introversion and the time needed for creativity to bloom. Any idea?

  6. markdeeg says:

    I’m not sure about the take up time for creativity being different for introverts or extroverts. An introvert of similar qualities to an extrovert, should have their creative bloom at the same time given differing external factors. These two individuals, the introvert in a quiet solitary place, and the extrovert in a loud social place should come to individual creativity at the same time. With extroverts being more social and potentially having more minds around to find creative solutions, their take up time for creativity could possibly be quicker, but it is not individual creativity.

    I think creative bloom has much to do with the environment in which the individual is working, and not the personality.

  7. vickrum says:

    Great post Clarissa. I do believe creativity has to be nurtured not manufactured. People need time to indulge themselves in ideas that at the time might seem preposterous but in the future might yield high dividends. Every one is different and that is why everyone has a different process o f coming up with new ideas. I usually like to get high (Bubba kush, strictly) whenever I need to think out of the box, because I need to rid my mind of the shackles that are unconsciously imposed by society.

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