Monday, December 22, 2008

A Culture of Creativity

Creativity is killed more often than it is supported. Many authors have identified the potentially stifling effects of the organisation on creativity. Hiring creative people will be insufficient for achieving creativity if it is not facilitated within the organisational culture. Further, if creativity is rejected, creative returns in the form of innovation cannot be expected. By restricting the occurence of creative outcomes, the organisation is simultaneously reducing the likelihood of recognising innovation. Creative employees must be placed within an appropriate environment before creative potential can be adequately recognised. Resource Allocation, Management Practices, and Organisational Motivation must be addressed to ensure that appropriate creative support is available.

Without a supportive climate, any attempts towards innovation will fail. Hiring a creative workforce will be ineffective if their skills become bureaucratically constrained. Organisations have traditionally taken a hostile stance towards creativity. In order to succeed in 21st century business, such an archaic attitude must be eliminated. It is important that multiple viewpoints are embraced, and challenges to the status quo are actively encouraged. If questions are not asked, then it is unlikely that improvements will be identified. Instead, a culture of trust and respect must be established, and organisational flexibility recognised. A culture of trust and respect will help advance debate amongst the workforce, and will allow employees to recognise the power of their voice within the organisation.

Uncertainty must be explored, and failures resulting from risk should be embraced (see the upcoming post 'Tolerating Failure'). In contrast, when organisations reject creativity, the likelihood of employees engaging in creative action diminishes; negative responses will deter creativity, and it is likely that intrinsic motivation will as a corollary decline. Whilst creative returns are arguably less certain, failure to distinguish the creativity of the workforce will cause an integral organisational resource to become compromised.

must not be undermined by a diminished likelihood of success. Instead, organisations should recognise and reward creativity, and encourage collaboration and learning across the organisation. The importance thereof is recognised by Glynn:

“Organisations that value diversity in perspectives, tolerate ambiguity, value innovation, and accept risk taking will tend to have a stronger orientation toward innovation... In general, then, organisations characterised by less bureaucracy; less functional specialisation; more fluid, flexible, and integrative structures; increased worker autonomy; and good communication and information flows are thought to be more innovative” (1996, p. 1102)

Where organisations encourage self leadership (see the upcoming post 'Thought Self Leadership and Creativity), it is imperative that employees are assisted to function as they see appropriate. Whilst controlling managers will cause the effects of self leadership to diminish, an absence of challenging, yet specific goals is equally detrimental. Motivation to act is driven by goals and the expected outcome thereof. Failure to provide such a target will invariably result in confusion amongst the workforce. Conversely, by providing set goals whilst allowing the workforce autonomy concerning how to achieve them, the organisation can expect to see increased performance levels through enhanced motivation.

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