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Break 3 Roadblocks to Great Creativity

Are you getting in the way of outrageous innovation?

Hari Haristea
Hari Haristea

Amy is in customer service at Company A, a decorative tile manufacturer. Data showed 80% of past business was from repeat customers, last year they were down 40%. 

The procedure is account representatives handle follow-up with current customers including repeat sales. Amy noticed a pattern in customer calls requesting communication directly with the designers. This was not procedure at Company A or any of their competitors. 

Amy remembered a friend, a social worker in intake at a mental health facility and as such had intimate knowledge of “the service” they were providing. How could her clients get creative contact without taking designers from their normal workload? Perhaps a dedicated designer in customer service? 

She worried she was overstepping her position, what if leadership hated it or if it failed miserably? She mustered up the confidence to present it to her supervisor who always openly encouraged creativity from all employees. Reorders from current clients increased 30% in 60 days of the new designer on boarding.  

Do your people on the front lines have the confidence and self-compassion to bring potentially great ideas to you?

Why creative ideas never see the light of day

1. Employees with a fabulous, outrageous solution, but are hesitant to share it

How can you increase the confidence of your team? Would more group outrageous brainstorming help? Let everyone throw out their most creative thoughts, without feedback; write them down as they flow out and move on to the next one. Go back through your list to look for possible winners. Treating each team member’s input with equal respect will encourage repeated ideas.

2. Open-minded leaders listen to ideas completely, not shutting down those who are adding creative thought to the party

A huge impediment to creativity is judgment by others. Compassion involves listening to their other’s ideas without immediately shutting them down with harsh criticism. 

Carefully consider each idea, weigh the positive and negative merits before pointing out possible flaws. Team members will be more likely to try again, to continue coming up with unique solutions. If you immediately respond in a negative way to an employee’s creative ideas how often do you think they will continue to give you new outrageous ideas? The next one could be just the innovative solution you need.

3. Self-compassion of creative idea makers

If the idea is not the best fit, needs work, receives a negative response or is implemented and fails the creator needs to hold back on self-criticism.Self-judgment is the largest roadblock to outrageously creative ideas. How harshly do you judge yourself? If you are already criticizing the idea before it is said out loud or written down, how does it have a chance?  

No one can beat you up quite like you can, why shouldn’t you learn to also nurture yourself and your creative thoughts beyond what anyone else can? 

Executives to line workers confirm it

If the idea is not the best fit, needs work, receives a negative response or is implemented and fails the creator needs to hold back on self-criticism. Self-judgment is the largest roadblock to outrageously creative ideas. How harshly do you judge yourself? If you are already criticizing the idea before it is said out loud or written down, how does it have a chance?  

No one can beat you up quite like you can, why shouldn’t you learn to also nurture yourself and your creative thoughts beyond what anyone else can? 

Building resilience in team members is the outcome many clients are seeking when they invite me to work with their teams. Resilience is a skill to optimally handle stressors and the ability to bounce back quickly when knocked down. A natural step forward from rebounding is letting go of self-judgment to move forward in a timely manner. 

If you are busy beating yourself up for making a mistake, it is difficult to move forward. This past year the last 10 minutes of a resilience program addressed cultivating self-compassion. I would ask the audience “When was the last time you were kind to yourself?” and was met with blank stares. Regardless if the audience was executives or safety managers, they would just shake their heads. After each program someone would tell me it never occurred to them to be kind to themselves.

Confidence + Self-kindness = Great Creativity 

Part of the creative process is the ability to stretch outside of your normal day to day thoughts. It also includes the confidence to give those thoughts life by writing them down. As soon as those ideas are on paper or on your screen they are real. To make them real, to build on an idea takes confidence and the willingness to take the chance it is worthy. 

Many of us brainstorm all the time by writing down creative ideas, “flow of consciousness” documents are just that. To buy in you need confidence in your idea and self-kindness if it fails; self-kindness to not beat yourself up, to let it go and move on to create a better idea. Extreme creativity cannot flow without the ability to let go of self-judgment and the confidence to give outrageous ideas life. 

On a podcast last week I heard Emily Ma from, Alphabet’s X say “Just Beyond Crazy is Fabulous”. I love this! It happens similarly in our own brain. If each outrageously creative thought, those so far ”out of the box” that they seem impossible is kept inside of your brain innovation will be more elusive than ever. For 2019 let’s all aim for “Beyond Crazy”!

Written by Debbie Vyskocil, President of Optimal Edge Performance

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