We all know - an organisation's ability to develop new products and services depends on highest levels of creativity. However, the million-dollar question is – how to get creativity soaring? Do monetary rewards spur creativity? Not really.
Money motivates a person to work but not necessarily in the most creative manner. Then, does time pressure foster great creativity? It usually doesn't. Organisations often assume that time pressure leads people on to great leaps of creativity but research reveals it's not true. Fake deadlines and overly tight schedules actually cause burnout and dampen creativity like nothing does. What then lets creativity bloom? Nurturing creativity, in fact, requires you to fundamentally change the work environment. Balancing the motivational factors often holds the key. Here are some insights.
Motivation is usually of two types - extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation comes from external sources and usually takes the form of a reward or punishment. Also known as carrot and stick, these often have the negative effect of making people feel as being bribed or controlled, at least with respect to creativity if not otherwise. The promise of a cash reward or the threat of a pink slip doesn't magically prompt people to find creative solutions to problems. But intrinsic motivation, coming from genuine interest or passion for work is actually what sparks creativity. It is here that a link between work environment and creativity gets established. A favourable work climate is a must to foster intrinsic motivation that causes unparalleled creative surge.
Identify and eliminate the creativity killers
Research indicates that internal politics, too much of conservatism, rigid and formal management structures often impede creativity. This is because people perceive these factors as forms of tight control. Tight controls usually negatively impact intrinsic motivation of people. And without intrinsic motivation, there can be no creativity. Organisations with a rigid culture expend a lot of energy to maintain the status quo rather than to move ahead. New ideas are harshly criticised and throttled to death. Internal politics usually lead to blame games and as these become rampant people avoid taking risks. Thus, the creative talent of people evaporates into thin air. If you find these creativity killers taking root in your organisation, it is time you paved the way for a more flexible culture to take over. To ignite intrinsic motivation creation of the right stimulants is a must. And these include:
Right matches: The simplest way to promote creativity is to match people with projects that play to their expertise. And the amount of challenge in the work should be neither too low nor too high but just right to keep boredom and exhaustion at bay.
Stable goals: Define clear goals and set the right expectations but allow enough latitude to let people decide how to accomplish them. Also, let the goals remain stable for a reasonable period of time for people to pursue them with vigour.
Open minds: Do away with time-consuming layers of evaluation and welcome new ideas with an open mind. Let not fear of failure or rebuke deter creativity from taking shape.
Encouraging pats: To sustain creative passion people must feel that their work is valuable for the organisation. So, generously and spontaneously shower appreciation for creative work done by individuals or teams. People don't need carrots to dangle before them. It is enough for them to know that rewards and recognition follow good work.
Team dynamics: Diversity should be central to creation of work groups. This broadens horizons and breeds creativity. Ensure that the members share excitement over the team's goal, help each other and also recognise and appreciate their differences.
If you are successful at creating the right work environment that shores up creativity, you know the rewards can be extremely great.
But if you fail to do so, the risks are even higher! Without creativity you stand to lose a great opportunity to rule the future. So, do everything it takes to nourish creativity. It is indeed a great feeling to have the most potent competitive weapon in your arsenal!
N. Purnima Srikrishna