Creative people are a rare species in an organization. They are a strange breed. They are a minority. Unlike many other minority support groups, they don’t have anyone to speak up for them. Creative people do not always choose the performing arts or the media to build careers. In fact if anything at all, the ones who are doing the solo act or those whose career lies outside the grip of an organization does not face the same challenges that the creative people face within the organization. Organizations have a way of taking over the lives of people who work there. We all have the ability to be creative. A child can spend hours playing with a box imagining it to be a space ship, a piano, a turtle… Organizations can tap into the creative person hiding inside all employees to make the workplace a more interesting place to be. The basic premise of what I am suggesting is that creative people are like performing artists. They derive their thrill by simply practicing their craft. But what takes them to the next level is appreciation from others. Creative people take their craft up by a notch each time someone applauds their work or idea. A part of them slowly wilts when their work and ideas go unnoticed and unappreciated.
Since 1958, millions of children have completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by Professor E. Paul Torrance. Torrance’s test - a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist - has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. The Torrance Test identifies whether you have unusual visual perspective or maybe an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products. Simply put, it tests your Creativity Quotient. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ. IQ has been going up by 10 points over each generation, but Creativity has been dropping.
Watching TV makes your creativity drop. Encouraging the children to continue asking questions is a way of developing their curiosity. Pre-school children ask about a 100 questions a day. This number steadily drops as the years grow by. By the time we are ready for the workplace, for most people creativity is not something they say they have. Many children create paracosms - fantasies of entire alternative worlds. They create a new language that that is spoken there. Creating paracosms is seen to be a very strong sign of future creativity.
Creative people are often distracted. The researchers gave a sensory test to a hundred undergraduates at Harvard. The tests were designed to measure their level of latent inhibition, which is the capacity to ignore stimuli that seem irrelevant. For instance, the sound of the AC in the room or the traffic or the passing aeroplane, depending on where you live. Creative achievers turned out to be people with low latent inhibition. Their attention drifts all over which is why they often land up considering the unexpected. While they tune in to all the distractions, creative people also apply a mental filter to zone in to find the pattern amid the chaos. While most parents, teachers and organizations say that they love to have creative children or employees (as may be the case), in reality they need to realize that creative people are tough to manage because of their constant day dreaming. In recent years, however, it’s become clear that daydreaming is actually an important element of the creative process, allowing the brain to remix ideas, explore counterfactuals and turn the spotlight of attention inwards. (That’s why increased daydreaming correlates with measures of creativity.). Jonah Lehrer, author of "How We Decide" goes on to say "Daydreaming is when the brain mixes together ideas, memories and concepts that are normally filed away in discrete mental folders. The end result is a kind of subterranean creativity, as the mind makes new connections on its own."
Here are a few things every organization can do to stoke back creativity:
1. Applaud the contributions of creative people.
2. Encourage divergent thinking with bouts of intense convergent thinking, through several stages as you solve problems
3. Give your employees time to daydream. Focus on just action will lead to predictable routine outcomes.
4. Ask them to solve real problems that the organizations are facing
5. Lead them like the conductor leads an orchestra
While creative people may be difficult to manage, yet they are the ones who take organizations to new heights. So nurture them or at least get out of their way.
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