Want more creative thinking at work, hire more creative thinkers

I had the pleasure of seeing Colin James, the Canadian blues and rock guitarist live last night.  Watching and listening to a master musician create magic was inspiring.

Which started me thinking about how to encourage more creativity in the workplace. Creativity drives innovation, and innovation drives competitive advantage and profitability.

So as leaders, how do we encourage creativity?  Research suggests that there are a number of ways to increase creativity in a workplace.

First, hire people who are  open to experience, that is they are willing to try new things, both in terms of variety and depth of experience, they are independent thinkers.  They are often less concerned with what others think of them, and tend to be imaginative.  People who are high on openness to experience tend to perform better on unfamiliar tasks.  People who are low in openness to experience prefer familiarity, simplicity and closure. 

Research suggests that people who are high in openness to experience are more likely to demonstrate creative behaviour.  Research also suggests that creative behaviour is also increased when people believe that they are “creative”.  Experiments suggest that simple interventions to reinforce people’s belief in their own creativity actually increase the amount of creative behaviour undertaken by participants.

So, two things you can do to increase creativity in your workplace?  First, hire for openness to experience, and second, provide people with opportunities to express and believe in their creative side. After all, even accountants can be creative, right?


4 replies »

  1. Familiarity, simplicity and closure, “doing things the old way” is less work and causes less stress. Why reinvent the wheel?

  2. Creativity and innovation is not about reinventing the wheel. It’s more about adapting the wheel to our evolving needs, otherwise our cars and planes would still be running on ox-cart wooden wheels.

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