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7 tips on how to boost creativity in the workplace
Turning the office into a place of artistry.
- Creativity in the workplace requires flexibility and a strong company culture.
- Experts encourage lateral thinking and meditation.
- A diverse and inclusive company also spurs creativity.
Letting creativity reign in the workplace is key to establishing an engaged and innovative workforce. The introduction of new ideas and new ways of doing things maximizes workers' well-being and encourages them to do their best for their company.
A job is a big part of people's lives and it should be fulfilling. Enabling workers to be creative helps create better-rounded people and new opportunities for business growth and innovation.
Creativity at work builds a foundation for greater business triumphs. It's not just the art studios that have a splash of the elusive muse. Some of the greatest companies today are also well-renowned creative powerhouses. There isn't a single company in existence that wouldn't want to emulate their success.
Employers and employees alike can implement the following actionable tips to get the creative gears flowing.
Foster a diverse and inclusive environment
Every company starts with a great team, where personal connections are developed through a fun loving and collaborative environment. Everyone should be drawn together in the common pursuit of their company's goal. Breaking down company silos is of the utmost importance in the pursuit of this goal.
Writers should mingle with programmers, managers should spend some time chatting with the workers servicing the clients on the ground floor. A pollination of cross-disciplinary roles mixing together keeps everyone thinking on their toes.
New ideas and inspiration will flow freely from one department of the company to the next.
The additional opportunity for diverse cultural and ethnical backgrounds to come together with their respective backgrounds also creates new opportunities for growth.
Encourage unconventional problem solving
Managers and executive staff should be open to new ideas from their workforce. Some of the most revolutionary ways of doing business have been put forth by employees. All workers should have a piece of the action when it comes to solving problems. Dan Seewald, CEO of Deliberate Innovation believes in a lateral thinking process that encourages unconventional solutions.
The best way to boost creativity is to abandon logic at the onset of a brainstorming session. He believes that asking provocative and ridiculous 'what if?' questions puts us on a path to coming up with unique solutions to complex problems. It's brainstorming completely detached from any logical grounding. It's something that you can easily try out in the workplace without the fear of judgement of any bad ideas.
Provide flexibility in how work gets done
Studies have shown that just changing where you sit at work boosts creativity and innovation.
Sometimes a simple shift of perspective is all you need. Switching up where you work can do wonders. Every now and then, take the work home with you and telecommute. By embarking on new places outside of the office, you can unlock new ways of thinking.
A flexible work policy increases work productivity. It helps to cut down on transit time and allow for a healthier work-life balance.
Establish a company culture
Wherever human beings congregate you're bound to find culture. We have many varying degrees of culture. The micro-cultures that arise around a company can either be incredibly fulfilling or toxic. Company cultures must be driven by a singular shared focus. When workers are given reasons to be excited to come to work, you've succeeded in creating a great company culture.
Dysfunctional company cultures on the other hand can seriously impact employee's creativity and overall mental health. The simplest way to establish a company culture to spur creativity is to just give your employees purpose. From purpose, a culture blooms.
Let employees take risks and experiment
Cultivate a culture that isn't afraid to take risks. One that also rewards new creative experimentation. Most of the time employees aren't proposing new solutions or ideas because there is a fear of making a mistake. Employees need to be given support, guidance and allowance that they can fail in the pursuit of creation.
One of the best ways to implement this is by being open to feedback and suggestions from your workforce or fellow employees. Sometimes this means having an open door policy or creating an anonymous space for people to share their ideas.
Look to coworkers with great emotional intelligence
The workplace can be a great place for knowledge sharing. There's a great opportunity to learn various skills and garner new knowledge from your peers in the company. Encourage others to share what they know with different parts of the team.
This can help workers discover new interests and spark new creative pursuits that they can bring back to their role. It's also important to develop your emotional intelligence and look to others who display high rates of it for guidance.
Author Daniel Goleman, who's researched emotional intelligence in business, found that it is more important than IQ for success in the workplace.
"This turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of success in any field… The surprise was this: IQ correlated zero, zero with their success as rated by peers. Emotional intelligence correlated very, very highly."
Create a space for self-reflection and meditation
When the busy season strikes, it's easy for people to start getting too focused on their work and forget about the bigger picture. During times like these, creativity is lacking. The best thing to do during a time like this is to step out of the madness for a few mindful moments everyday.
Getting people into the habit of conducting self-reflections can help them center themselves and avoid stress or burn-out – two things that limit creativity. Just a simple check-in with yourself does wonders. Cultivating a regular schedule of meditation will take this to the next level.
Emptying the mind is a great way to fill it.
- Can creativity be taught? - Big Think ›
- What Motivates Creativity? - Big Think ›
- How diversity in the workplace boosts creativity - Big Think ›
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?
- A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
- It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
- The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
Welfare as an investment<p>The <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/hendren/files/welfare_vnber.pdf" target="_blank">study</a>, carried out by Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser of Harvard University, reviews 133 welfare programs through a single lens. The authors measured these programs' "Marginal Value of Public Funds" (MVPF), which is defined as the ratio of the recipients' willingness to pay for a program over its cost.</p><p>A program with an MVPF of one provides precisely as much in net benefits as it costs to deliver those benefits. For an illustration, imagine a program that hands someone a dollar. If getting that dollar doesn't alter their behavior, then the MVPF of that program is one. If it discourages them from working, then the program's cost goes up, as the program causes government tax revenues to fall in addition to costing money upfront. The MVPF goes below one in this case. <br> <br> Lastly, it is possible that getting the dollar causes the recipient to further their education and get a job that pays more taxes in the future, lowering the cost of the program in the long run and raising the MVPF. The value ratio can even hit infinity when a program fully "pays for itself."</p><p> While these are only a few examples, many others exist, and they do work to show you that a high MVPF means that a program "pays for itself," a value of one indicates a program "breaks even," and a value below one shows a program costs more money than the direct cost of the benefits would suggest.</p> After determining the programs' costs using existing literature and the willingness to pay through statistical analysis, 133 programs focusing on social insurance, education and job training, tax and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers were analyzed. The results show that some programs turn a "profit" for the government, mainly when they are focused on children:
This figure shows the MVPF for a variety of polices alongside the typical age of the beneficiaries. Clearly, programs targeted at children have a higher payoff.
Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser<p>Programs like child health services and K-12 education spending have infinite MVPF values. The authors argue this is because the programs allow children to live healthier, more productive lives and earn more money, which enables them to pay more taxes later. Programs like the preschool initiatives examined don't manage to do this as well and have a lower "profit" rate despite having decent MVPF ratios.</p><p>On the other hand, things like tuition deductions for older adults don't make back the money they cost. This is likely for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is less time for the benefactor to pay the government back in taxes. Disability insurance was likewise "unprofitable," as those collecting it have a reduced need to work and pay less back in taxes. </p>
What are the implications of all this?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="ceXv4XLv" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="3b407f5aa043eeb84f2b7ff82f97dc35"> <div id="botr_ceXv4XLv_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ceXv4XLv-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/ceXv4XLv-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ceXv4XLv-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Firstly, it shows that direct investments in children in a variety of areas generate very high MVPFs. Likewise, the above chart shows that a large number of the programs considered pay for themselves, particularly ones that "invest in human capital" by promoting education, health, or similar things. While programs that focus on adults tend to have lower MVPF values, this isn't a hard and fast rule.</p><p>It also shows us that very many programs don't "pay for themselves" or even go below an MVPF of one. However, this study and its authors do not suggest that we abolish programs like disability payments just because they don't turn a profit.</p><p>Different motivations exist behind various programs, and just because something doesn't pay for itself isn't a definitive reason to abolish it. The returns on investment for a welfare program are diverse and often challenging to reckon in terms of money gained or lost. The point of this study was merely to provide a comprehensive review of a wide range of programs from a single perspective, one of dollars and cents. </p><p>The authors suggest that this study can be used as a starting point for further analysis of other programs not necessarily related to welfare. </p><p>It can be difficult to measure the success or failure of a government program with how many metrics you have to choose from and how many different stakeholders there are fighting for their metric to be used. This study provides us a comprehensive look through one possible lens at how some of our largest welfare programs are doing. </p><p>As America debates whether we should expand or contract our welfare state, the findings of this study offer an essential insight into how much we spend and how much we gain from these programs. </p>
Finding a balance between job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle is not easy.
- When most of your life is spent doing one thing, it matters if that thing is unfulfilling or if it makes you unhappy. According to research, most people are not thrilled with their jobs. However, there are ways to find purpose in your work and to reduce the negative impact that the daily grind has on your mental health.
- "The evidence is that about 70 percent of people are not engaged in what they do all day long, and about 18 percent of people are repulsed," London Business School professor Dan Cable says, calling the current state of work unhappiness an epidemic. In this video, he and other big thinkers consider what it means to find meaning in your work, discuss the parts of the brain that fuel creativity, and share strategies for reassessing your relationship to your job.
- Author James Citrin offers a career triangle model that sees work as a balance of three forces: job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle. While it is possible to have all three, Citrin says that they are not always possible at the same time, especially not early on in your career.