Fostering Creativity, Not Stifling It.

Feb 19, 2022 | Atandra Burman

Creativity is the act of conceiving something new, while Innovation is the act of putting that something new in practice. In other words, innovation is a direct manifestation of creative thinking. Creative thinking skills involve looking at a problem from different and creative angles, using the right tools to assess it and develop an ultimate solution. While this can be developed through education, on-job training and observing creative minds at work, fostering a culture of creativity is an art rather than a skill.

Some orgs do it better than others. So what makes your org stand out?

I came across this gem of a write up from over 2 decades ago. It points to invaluable opportunities for leadership and senior management in building a culture of creativity by bringing together the right expertise and skills with the relevant intrinsic motivation. Recognizing intrinsic motivation is key here – this takes careful understanding of what works best with individuals. One size hardly befits all – some thrive in just the right balance of challenge with autonomy, while others appreciate the lattitude with process to get to an end goal.

Aligning the purpose and a shared understanding of goals, allows a sense of general direction that ignites a sense of ownership, if autonomy and support is provided. As companies chase yearly and quarterly tactical goals, strategic growth of the brand relies on underlying innovation that continues to carve a niche for the brand to attract customers and sustain their interest over time, thus growing market share. This means a good balance between creators and operators. Apple is a good example of a brand that does this very well by identifying the two types of individuals, and letting them co-exist with good management and direction for long terms success.

Not just incubating creativity, the harvard business review further goes to show how managers can avoid stifling creativity by managing this fine balance. In an exponentially expanding technology industry, there is opportunity in recognizing the unique knowledge and perspectives that various individuals bring about. Carefully designing teams that can encourage co-creativity through collaborative reasoning, healthy debates and open minds accelerates the journey for innovations that make it to the real world. An ideal creative environment can be enabled by managers by stepping up as role models, persevering through tough problems, encouraging collaboration and information sharing within the team.

I have strongly believed in having an open mind towards learning from failures and finding the path forward. With the right people around, this fuels the flow of ideas, and we eventually collaborate towards something relevantly unique. Enhancing creativity indeed requires conscious culture change with a safety net below the people who ask questions and suggest ideas.

To all the creators that strive to make a difference!