This morning as I was exercising I talked to an artist, a woman who designs giftware. She´s a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I asked her at one point about what she learned there and how she applied that to what she creates. I shouldn´t have been at all surprised when she said that much of her work is really more intuitive. I suppose she must have learned something there, technique? Strategy? Some business smarts maybe? Still we both agreed that creating something whether it´s the design for cups and plates or a book there´s a lot of work involved. Indeed, in today´s Chicago Tribune writer Joyce Carol Oates said something really wise but so simple, too. She was talking about the craft of writing, but her words could be applied to any discipline really: " " If you are in that category where you can work, and work, and really work,´ she said. "You can be a great writer.´"
On the one hand, her words are encouraging. After all, with advice like that can´t anyone achieve something difficult? On the other hand, it is often what is right before us that is also what´s so difficult. Some people can work really, really hard and it might not even feel like work. But when they´re done there is no doubt in anyone´s mind, including the creator, that, indeed, much work was done. But getting back to creative endeavors-how can something creative, something that presumably comes naturally to someone, be a lot of work?
This is where you come in and your ideas about employee development. It´s too bad that there is a prevailing-though false in my humble (well, not so humble if you´ve read some of my previous posts"?¦)-thought that creativity is not something you work at. Or worse, that creativity is more about the image on a canvas or the words on a page and less about how to meld technology with consumer needs. As far as I´m concerned everyone is creative whether it´s the couple who must pay for their children´s college education and finance a parent´s bill for assisted living or the single mom who´s juggling not one job and home life but two or even three. That´s creative.
Sometimes the best way to get people thinking creatively is to let them know that you believe the same thing-which everyone has the potential to create. Indeed, you should let them know, perhaps, that it´s something you expect. Find out if they know what you mean, give them examples of how they can be more creative at work, provide time and space for employees to exchange ideas. If you can create the environment in which creativity can flourish, then you´re likely to notice some new ideas floating around.