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Dimitry Buterin and Jim Sympathy listen as Jay Moonah leads a Friday afternoon brainstorming meeting, complete with beers at the Bonasource office in Toronto on Friday February 19, 2010. JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL (JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE)
Dimitry Buterin and Jim Sympathy listen as Jay Moonah leads a Friday afternoon brainstorming meeting, complete with beers at the Bonasource office in Toronto on Friday February 19, 2010. JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL (JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE)

Weekend Workout

Workplace creativity shrivels on the vine Add to ...

1. Questioning: The most innovative CEOs continually ask questions that challenge assumptions and the status quo.

2. Observing: They're curious, keen observers of people, whether employees, customers, suppliers or colleagues.

3. Experiment: They're not afraid to try new things, even at the risk of failure.

4. Networking: They regularly broaden their perspective by interacting with others to learn, find and test new ideas.

5. Associating" They look for relationships between seemingly unrelated people, places and things.

Source: Brigham Young University, December 2009



3 QUICK QUESTIONS TO SPUR CREATIVE THINKING

1. What if...? For example, "What if we couldn't do things the way we do them now, what would we do?" When you stop asking this question, you're suggesting there's no room for improvement.

2. What else...? Encourages people to push for alternative answers or solutions and not simply accept the first answer that comes to mind.

3. Why not...? Takes away any constraints and frees the mind to explore possibilities.

Source: Linda Naiman, Linda Naiman & Associates Inc., Vancouver



UNLEASH CREATIVITY

EMPLOYERS

Offer training on how to be receptive to ideas.

Many managers' first response is to shoot down suggestions or new ideas. If workers are constantly rebuffed, they'll stop contributing.

Develop a culture that considers creativity a valuable commodity.

For example, promote an environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, and applaud their work on the development of new ideas, processes or products.

Give employees the time and space to think creatively.

It's pretty hard to be creative when you're always pressed for time.

Bring diverse groups of people together in brainstorming sessions or to work on projects together.

Diversity in cultures, experience, age and disciplines will typically bring greater variation in terms of creative ideas.

Develop a system.

Come up with a process that collects, documents and recognizes employee ideas.

Give workers the freedom to fail.

Realize that not all projects will be successful.

Encourage interaction and communication: The more employees mingle and talk, the more you promote creativity. New ideas often come from informal conversations between workers.

EMPLOYEES

Change your view. Look at tasks from different perspectives. Ask yourself how the marketing department or a customer might approach an assignment at hand.

Feed your brain. Broaden the way you think outside the workplace by taking time to appreciate art, music and nature.

Connect the dots. Learn how to make connections between people, places and things that are normally not thought of that way.

Stretch your boundaries. Before settling on one answer to a problem or challenge, think of three alternatives.Talk it out. Having trouble with a specific task? Ask co-workers to brainstorm.

Sources: Linda Naiman, Linda Naiman & Associates Inc., Marci Segal, president Creativityland Inc., Toronto



CREATIVITY MYTHS BUSTED

Myth: When people think of creativity, they think of Mozart or Picasso. Likewise, many assume creativity is the dominion of geniuses or that it applies only to right-brain thinkers.

Reality: "The truth is, creativity is a whole-brain function. Everyone is creative. It's part of our human nature. But it's like a muscle - it needs to be developed. And if it's not used regularly, it becomes uncomfortable when you do use it," says creativity specialist Linda Naiman.

Myth: Money is a creativity motivator.

Reality: "Study after study shows that rewarding creativity decreases motivation," Ms. Naiman says. Of course, people want to be paid fairly, but by and large they want to know their contributions are valued. That their ideas are seen, heard, and recognized, she adds. Myth: People are most creative when they're under pressure. Reality: "Time constraints shut people down. It's hard to be creative when you're in survival mode," Ms. Naiman says.



BY THE NUMBERS

88 Percentage of workers who consider themselves creative. 63 Percentage who consider their job a creative position. 21 Percentage of workers who said they would change jobs to be more creative at work.

76 Percentage of American workers who say they like to do things that are novel or unconventional.

25 Percentage who believe management creates a barrier to creative work.

25 Percentage of American workers who describe their workplaces as a dictatorship.

54 Percentage of American workers who said their workplace does not promote creative or inventive ideas.

57 Percentage of Australian CEOs who say they take a highly conventional approach to leadership, encouraging employees to follow standard procedures, even at the expense of new ideas and innovation.

41 Percentage of organizations that have no process in place to encourage new ideas or input.

29 Percentage of workers who said a co-worker stole one of their ideas.

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