You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou

Reflection

As I reflect upon this past week, I remain very excited about the possibilities of Clear Way Forward (personal, professional, setting an example to my children, flexible schedule for volunteerism, etc.).  Of course, it is going to take a commitment to hard work, sacrifice, accepting failure and rejection, living with fear among numerous other less desirable attributes and conditions.  Advice I have been given and have to keep at the forefront is: the monster has to be fed. I can make more time for my family, friends, and philanthropy, but I need to be continually looking forward and making sales.  Some entrepreneurial (I wish that word was easier to spell) advice I received was startups have to spend at least 70% of their time marketing and selling.  We all want to spend more time in the product and the other associated benefits, but the hard reality is if you don’t sell, none of those other benefits come to fruition.  This week I need to focus on developing a sales plan.

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You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou

In this dynamic, rapidly evolving, globally competitive marketplace, creativity is a competitive edge.  But creativity cannot simply be declared by dictum, mandated or scheduled.  It has to be consciously cultivated and matured by leaders who make a commitment to setting the proper conditions in the environment.  As a leader, you have to inspire and empower your employees to be creative. 

Google (20%) and 3M (15%), among others, offer a percentage of the employee’s time “off” to explore, be creative and innovate.  Whether the return on investment can be directly attributed to the 20% time off, I don’t intend to advocate or dispute, but I would suggest that this type of investment empowers employee innovation, loyalty, retention, a willingness to sacrifice personal time, and organizational commitment the other “80%” of their work week. 

Perhaps, you don’t have the capacity, or personnel depth, to offer “20%” of the work week to your employees for innovation time.  Find ways you can. 

A technique I used in the Marine Corps was to say “yes” to Marines.  If they wanted to attend school, take leave, pursue other interests, I always tried to find a way to say: yes.  Even in combat when my lieutenants or NCOs wanted to experiment with our standard operating procedures (SOPs) or our tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), we would discuss it, and then, find ways to experiment and implement.  Not to overstate this, but to be clear, the risk we accepted was not the colored font on a spreadsheet in a quarterly report, but human lives.  The simple act of saying “yes” to employee ideas will begin changing your culture and it is an incalculable long-term investment in people and your organization.

Randy Spitzer (2013) gives advice on how to foster creativity in the workplace through a growth mindset, shared values, and he recommends four steps to fostering creative changes (4Ds): Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver. 

There is more to changing the culture than the tips above.  Share your thoughts, join the conversation, and let us know if we can help your organization:

See thru the storm.

References

Spitzer, Randy. (2013). Lighting the fire of innovation: How to foster creativity in the workplace. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 36(3), 15.

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