Can You Hear the Creativity?

Can You Hear the Creativity?

There’s a very distinctive sound that echoes through a place where people, big or small, are engaged in purposeful work. It has a rhythm and a joy you can feel in the air. It’s intangible, but it’s very real. I believe that is the sound of creativity – the heartbeat of a culture of innovation. Year after year, we hear reports from the World Economic Forum on how creativity is an essential  skill for the future. Yet it seems we are continually asked to defend its place at the table both in the business world and in the world of education. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why this matters and about the challenges of creating this kind of vibrant culture. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. A culture of innovation is built on knowledge. It honors the past, learns from past legacies, traditions and mistakes, and uses this to design the future. It requires reflection. It focuses on who I am, who you are, who we are, and most importantly, who we can be together. The ability to look back and forward is essential as creativity is not a linear process. The past, present and future all contribute to the generation of new ideas and new ways of working. 
  2. A culture of innovation is built on empathy. As Brenee Brown so thoughtfully captured, “Rather than walking in your shoes, I need to learn how to listen to the story you tell about what it’s like in your shoes and believe you even when it doesn’t match my experiences.” You already know what you think, and must be hungry to know what someone else thinks. To do that requires a deep curiosity and desire to truly know what another person thinks and feels. Creativity depends on these collaborative collisions of ideas and diverse perspectives.
  3. A culture of innovation is built on trust. Trust in the workplace requires being vulnerable, which can be uncomfortable. We have to begin with the premise that the creative ideas we come up with won’t always work, but we have to be willing to trust our colleagues enough to still put them forth. Knowing that our ideas will be heard engenders a sense of belonging. And it is in these spaces where creativity can emerge.

The sounds of creativity in the workplace remind us of the power we have within us to be change agents in the workplace and create thriving cultures of innovation. Let’s listen for it. 

Published by Maureen Carroll, Ph.D. on LinkedIn

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