Creativity in Business

May 6, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Entrepreneur Mindset, Featured

Normally, we associate creativity with artists who apply their craft in written communications, visual arts, or music.  But, if we strictly define creativity as artistic talent, we fail to appreciate how it is involved in the apparently mundane aspects of our lives.  That is really a shame, for nothing of life is truly mundane.

An acceptable definition for creativity is having the ability to find solutions where none are apparent.  This is often seen with children who are learning something new.  Less obvious are the toiling movers who manage to fit your heirloom dining room table through a narrow hallway without destroying the furniture or the walls, which is certainly admirable.  🙂

In business, creativity is characterized as thinking outside the box, creative problem solving, and maybe even critical thinking.  Has your business creativity ever been stifled by colleagues or clients?  Have you ever inadvertently stifled them?  There are so many ways this can happen, and this article exposes a few of them.

You Want it When?

During my corporate days, I had an image of a person beneath a thumbscrew with a caption that read:

Turn it again you SOB!  I work well under pressure!

The poster was irreverent and got many laughs but there really was no truth in it.  The fact of the matter is, people don’t perform as creatively when severe deadlines are imposed.  While the tasks may be completed on time and satisfactorily, there is kind of a hangover after the fact for those involved that can literally immobilize them for days after the effort is over.

Time pressure disrupts one’s ability to fully engage themselves in the solution.  True creativity requires an incubation period.  In my business, premium rates are applied to “rush” projects for good reason.  When we come to terms on delivery dates and pricing, another dark side can be introduced by anxious people.  Folks who are in a panic with a high need to feel in control can upset the creative flow with interruptions.  To avoid this possible problem, I’ve learned to suggest a date in advance for status updates.

Please Put Your Weapons Away

With morbid fascination, I’ve observed threats that some people have  imposed in an effort to inspire.  This was more or less a daily fact of life on the job in the information technology industry.  As a Realtor®, a client’s posturing that they would withdraw their listings didn’t motivate me to change anything about the marketing plan we had agreed to at the time we wrote our contract and the listing still sold within the pricing and terms we had set forth at that time.

These days, as an internet entrepreneur, oppressive behavior serves as a signal that it might be time to fire the client. Proceeding with people whose projects are fraught with self-serving drama is rarely worth the effort involved in their high maintenance, although some empathy and discussion can sometimes alleviate the  problem.  Yet, if someone wants to be a unhappy, they want to be unhappy and it is never worth entering into a battle of wills.  Let them be right and move on.

If we enjoy what we’re doing, getting out of bed in the morning is never a chore.  Happy liaisons are not only much more fun.  Working with joyful people induces higher creativity for everyone involved.

Roles and Responsibilities

Casting a stereotype, based a limited perception about the skills involved in that role, can be limiting for the individual contributor and dangerous for the type-caster.  Consider your bookkeeper, for example.  The joke associated with creative financing is well known to us all but, when your accountant suggests a financing solution that you’ve never heard of before and it helps you to forward a business goal, their creativity is a huge asset to your business.

Financial Incentives May Not Be The Answer

A study on business creativity suggested that tying compensation to overall team results isn’t necessarily the ticket for inducing higher creativity OR better solutions.  In fact, the study’s results demonstrated that people who were focused on bonuses were less productive than those who worked for the love of the effort.

Although there is a somewhat common belief that people will work harder if they are rewarded through performance incentives, concerns about negative compensation effects lead people to risk aversion, which ultimately affects creativity.  Ranging outside the norms of what is imagined is an outcome of being truly interested in the effort at hand, knowing that it’s OK to try anything that has potential to work, and believing that one’s suggestions are taken seriously and that their contributions are valued.

How this Relates to

As a WordPress website designer,  the truth in the tagline at Codex is not lost on me.  Even though most people will never truly appreciate the elegance of some of the code they use, which the tagline describes as poetry, one’s ability to envision and develop it certainly requires a special sort of creativity.

Personally, I get much more satisfaction out of consulting with clients, who have come to me for help with their marketing and branding strategies, and seeing the light bulb illuminate.  This happens when our discussions unearth something about their pursuits that is not obvious to them because they are too close to the proverbial forest to see the trees.  That is fun!

Right Brained or Left Brained … Does It Matter to Creativity?

creativity-in-businessOur right brains influence our creativity, so science says.  Here’s a place for you to take a test, if knowing your brain’s preference is important to you.

I’ve known remarkably creative people whose claim to fame was clearly left brained.  The most renowned example is a former real estate client and friend of mine, Leo Hurwicz, who achieved Nobel Laureate status for his Economics Theory at the age of 90.  It was a privilege to know him and and memories of our talks are truly treasures for me.

His special skill was mathematics, which is clearly left-brained and analytical.  Yet, his creativity allowed him to see beyond the equations and develop a theory that explained financial markets and ultimately garnered world-wide recognition.

So, the moral of the story is to not hold yourself back if you are left-brained by nature.  Creativity is the product of what you believe is possible for you to do and it is nurtured by an environment where your ideas can expand to reality … regardless of your brain’s bias or your assigned role.


6 Responses to “Creativity in Business”
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    • Marj Wyatt says:

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for your praise and your comment. I’m pleased to learn that the article was helpful to you.

      MY first love, online, is blogging. The past several months have kept me quite busy with my consulting business but I do plan to write more *hopefully* insightful posts like Creativity in Business during 2012.

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