Today we are talking to an expert on creativity in the workplace. Jennifer Yaros conducts workshops and has a book coming out about the topic and we got a chance to discuss how improving creativity at work can help boost productivity.
1) Tell me what you mean when you say “Creativity” in the workplace.
Creative thinking is essential for problem solving whether it is process improvement or product development. Companies are always looking for better, faster, and cheaper ways to do things. To stay ahead of the competition a company needs creative thinking and innovative solutions.
Creativity in the workplace shows up in:
- finding new ways to creatively solve more business problems
- injecting new ideas into your business
- developing new products and service offerings
- developing future leaders with a creativity and innovation mindset
2) What benefits can an employer expect if they invest in improving creativity with their team?
Having a creative and innovative culture in the workplace helps your company to stay ahead of the competition and to keep employees engaged. When employees see their ideas matter and their solutions valued, they are happier and more loyal. When they see trying something new is embraced, it is difficult to stay in a rut doing the same old thing.
3) How do you maintain creativity long term in the workplace?
It is not enough to simply say your company values creativity. You must actively promote, develop, and nurture it. One of the biggest ways to encourage creative ideas is to encourage employees to Fail Like a Genius™. This is a three-step process I created to help companies and individuals understand, accept, and deal with “failures.” The key for the company is to not punish individuals if their creative idea or solution does not work. The company can help them to Fail Like a Genius by:
1) Embracing failure. Give yourself permission to fail.
2) Learn from failure. Diagnose the cause of the failure and make adjustment.
3) Reassess failure. Determine if you just need a different audience or a different use.
4) What are some common creativity killers at work?
A big “creativity killer” is stress. Your brain creates neurotransmitters and certain neurotransmitters have been proven to promote creative thinking and others are prohibitive to creative thinking. When you are stressed your brain generates the neurotransmitters cortisol and adrenaline which activates the fight or flight impulse. This is detrimental for creative thinking. Other producers of cortisol and inhibitors of creativity are depression and sadness. To combat this, companies can encourage employees to take period breaks to walk or mediate. Exercise and mediation trigger the brain to produce serotonin which signals calm and is necessary for the brain to create ideas. Other “creative” neurotransmitters are dopamine and endorphins, so there is a direct correlation to excitement and happiness and creativity.
I could talk forever about creativity killers and how to combat them, but I will restrict myself to one more. Ego. I devote an entire section of my workshops and book in overcoming ego to improve creative thinking. Sometimes it’s too much ego and sometimes it’s not enough ego. Going back to what I mentioned previously about failure, that is all about ego. It is our ego that makes us afraid to fail and when we are afraid to fail, we do not try new things or take risks. We do not speak because we are afraid of looking stupid or being judged. It is our ego that creates roadblocks telling us that something is not possible instead of seeing an opportunity for trying something different. It is our ego that says, “I can’t” instead of “How can I?” Our ego also tells us that we are better than others and we miss out of collaborating. Letting go of ego allows us to work with others and double our creative ideas. It allows us to listen and learn new things.
5) What is something a management team could do today to immediately boost creativity?
Give employees the time for creative thinking. Allow them to walk around the building or play a game of ping-pong. Stepping away from work gives the analytical side of the brain a rest and allows the creative side of the brain to be heard. (This is why people often have their best ideas while driving or just before sleep. The analytical side is noise and it needs to be quite for the creative side to be heard).
I helped one company by facilitating a creativity workshop immediately before their annual strategic meeting. The CEO was tired of solving the same problems with the same ideas. By holding the creativity workshop before the meeting, the department heads were more open to exploring alternative solutions to the problems and their excitement had the creative ideas flowing.
6) You have a book coming out soon – what is it about and who is it for?
The book is titled Conditioning Your Mind to Fuel Creativity. I discuss the importance of creativity and the ways it is used in personal- and business-life. I cover the three key areas you must pay attention to order to improve your creative thinking – your body and senses, your thinking, and your ego.
The biggest differentiator of my book with other books about creativity out there are the exercises and tools that I provide. These are things a person can do and use immediately to start improving their creative thinking. Creativity is something that must be practiced in order to improve. It’s just like improving at a sport, language, or musical instrument. You MUST practice. The exercises and tools I provide are a fun and effective way to practice and apply various aspects of creative thinking.
7) How do people find out more about you, your book and your workshops?
They can get more information on the BrainSpark website – www.brainspark-creativity.com
I also have several social media sites for news.
Facebook BrainSpark Page – https://www.facebook.com/JenniferYarosBrainSpark
My LinkedIn Page – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferyaros/
My Twitter Page – https://twitter.com/JenniferYaros