There’s been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I’m struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.
Fostering a creative environment in the workplace is like nurturing a garden.
Though I’ve had tulips in my garden for the past 6 years, this Spring marks only the second year my tulips have bloomed. Each year as the green leaves of my tulips appear, I eagerly anticipate the colorful blossoms. Unfortunately for the first 4 years, all I saw was a garden of green stems sitting atop the leaves. In talking to one of my neighbors, she asked if I let the tulips die back. Being a novice gardener I replied, “Once I see the greens starting to wilt, I cut down the plant.” As it turns out, tulip bulbs reabsorb the energy from the dying plant. Rather than cutting down the plants, I learned I should let them die back naturally. Just like gardening, creativity in the workplace needs care and feeding.
A few years back, I brought my son to work with me. I was technically supposed to be out of the office for a vacation day, but had a couple of loose ends to tie up. I figured my 5-year old would enjoy a trip to the office. Our office had a Wii and lots of office supplies to keep him busy. After beating one of my colleagues at Wii bowling and telling my manager he didn’t like meetings, my son jumped into our last meeting.
We sat in a small, windowless room with a conference table that was too big and too many chairs to comfortably navigate around. One of the better features of the room were the freshly painted, cream-colored walls. As I looked around for items that might occupy my son, I saw giant flip chart paper and markers. I thought, “Wow, he’s going to love drawing larger than life.” I proceeded to tape 4 pieces of poster sized paper to the wall and gave him a set of markers.
I was on a flight from Logan Airport a few days after the Boston Marathon. And before you ask – no I didn’t run. When I was at the airport, I was struck by how many people were wearing their official Boston Marathon jackets. The airport was awash with proud runners waiting for flights to head home. I started thinking. These runners are part of a club – a club that is identified by adidas windbreakers. If a jacket can make it apparent that a person ran the Boston Marathon, what are the markings of a creative tribe?
To me, you can tell when you’ve found a creative tribe by observing how they work together. Some telling signs of a creative tribe include:
You might ask, “Is there a creative way to teach math?” I remember the days of learning multiplication tables by rote. Things are changing…for the better. A version of this was originally posted on Quora. With the great positive feedback, I thought it would be good to share on Daily Creativity. The Quora question was, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” My answer…
I believe creativity in the classroom has more to do with individual teachers more than anything else. As a creativity practitioner from time to time I work with teachers and classrooms to incorporate creativity into the curriculum. One of my experiences involved working with my son’s kindergarten class to teach skip counting (counting by 3’s, 5’s, etc.).
It seems talk of innovation is everywhere. In the news, in world events, in boardrooms around the globe. Innovation may just be the buzzword of this generation. With all the talk of innovation, why are so many companies struggling to become more innovative? I believe creativity, vital to innovation, has been overlooked. I created this SlideShare presentation, titled “3 Truths About Innovative Companies” to explore the topic of creativity in business. In this module, you’ll learn:
- How to become a more creative organization
- How to get more creativity in less time
- How to create a climate for creativity