In The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, Todd Henry looks at creativity in the workplace and how we all are called to be more creative at our jobs. (The book is in the Mayfield Library, and you can check it out as soon as I’ve finished reading it.) However, he notes that many managers are uncomfortable with this because they are accustomed to evaluating efficiency. And efficiency does not allow for the peaks and valleys of the creative cycle. He points out that “the way that many organizations measure the productivity of creative employees often has more in common with how they would measure the productivity of a copier than of a person.” He also notes that in some places, the appearance of being busy is more likely to be rewarded than actual effectiveness.
When I was in college, I worked in a cloth room at a cotton mill during the summers. I sewed together remnants that had imperfections. While, luckily, I was not paid by the piece, I was supposed to have a certain number of carts filled each day. Obviously, it was easy to tell when I was working and when I wasn’t.
But very few jobs are like that one. Even if we don’t consider ourselves very creative, our jobs require us to come up with new ways of getting things done or modify old processes or procedures. So no matter what we do, most of us have a call to be more creative.
Now this is not a post demanding a new evaluation system for employees! But it is a call for us all to allow ourselves and our colleagues time for creativity on the job.
How do we do that? We give ourselves and others space to:
- Think up ideas (without any snarky comments),
- Bounce ideas off each other, and
- Create an environment where the requisite messiness of invention is tolerated.
This works whether you’re trying to inspire creativity in the workplace or at home. So this week, be creative and allow others to be as well.