Work, Work, Work, Work, Work!
I recently had an unexpected and thought-provoking encounter. I caught an Uber from a client meeting back to the office and on the journey I struck up a conversation with the driver. He explained that he was new to Uber driving, in fact I was one of his first ‘fares’. He continued to explain that his other job was a little “unusual” and he worked “during the night”. Needless to say I gave him a sideward glance at this moment. He was quick to recover this by saying “I’m not a male escort …I write songs.”
Curiosity set in at this point as I wasn’t sure if my driver was being modest or coy, or both! “So if you write songs, does that mean you are in a band? And, would I know your band?” As it turns out, my driver was the lead vocalist in an award winning Australian indie pop band.
I spent the remainder of the trip picking his brains about his experience of being A Creative by trade! “What is it like to be in aprofession that relies on consistent demonstration of originality and creativity?” “Do you get creative blocks?” “What do you do when you experience a block?”
Days after this experience, my conversation with the driver continued to float front of mind as I worked on different client projects. This lead me to pose the following leadership challenge…
Imagine your team or organisation is a pop band who has had a mega-hit catapulting you to international fame! In order to maintain your place in the charts you MUST continue to produce original and creative material to satisfy a restless and growing fan-base.
What changes would you make to the way you conduct business?
In my line of work, I frequently engage with visionary leaders who are battling with legacy issues I refer to as “grey suiting thinking and action” [‘grey suit thinking’ refers to the image of the Uninspiring, Ordinary and Very Serious Grey 1990’s Power Suit]. This legacy subscribes to the philosophy that creativity in the workplace is a “luxury activity” to be engaged only if you have extra time. In other words, if you are seen being creative you obviously don’t have enough ‘real’ work to do. These organisations and leaders seem to be missing the point entirely! In actual fact, businesses need to adopt the thinking of artists to navigate the 21st Century world of work and significantly impact the bottom line.
As a result of this conversation I have summed up the following tips for fostering creativity:
- Get the hell out of here!
As suggested by my Uber driver, who was about to embark on a ‘retreat’ with his band…Take your team away to a location completely removed from work to discuss strategy and solve business problems. It could be for 1 hour, 1 day or 1 week!
Lisa messenger, publisher and Editor in Chief of Collective Hub magazine and Creative Director of the Messenger Group, is known for taking her team to different locations to conduct meetings. As a leader she sees value in investing in creativity to allow team members to draw inspiration from diverse and stimulating environments.
- Enable it!
Actively encourage your team to spend a dedicated percentage of their time ‘creating’. This means empowering them to apply creative and innovative techniques to come up with solutions to current road blocks and old problems – OR to generate new ideas that will most benefit your company! This means breaking assumptions about the value of creativity in the workplace, and being accepting of the time and energy the creativity process may require.
Google is infamous for fostering a culture in which employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on projects and ideas outside their core responsibilities. This philosophy has led to significant advances such as Gmail and AdSense.
- Get started!
Being creative about problem solving can start right now! If you are a leader who expects your team to demonstrate creative thinking – do them a favour and point them in the right direction! It is always valuable to provide examples of how you expect people to espouse a culture of creativity!
At Left Field we can show you how to strip away ‘grey suit thinking’ and apply practical, efficient, evidence-based strategies for:
- generating multiple ideas,
- breaking through mental blocks and
- consolidating and pitching new ways of overcoming complex business problems!
A shout out to my Uber driver who reminded me of the inspiring and creative minds who are courageous, passionate and risk-taking in their pursuit of success!
- Jessica Fraser, Senior Consultant Psychologist