Creative - moi?

Eddy Canfor-Dumas

4

January 2021

I read a couple of articles this week about how to be more creative at work.

They’re useful pieces, one focusing on how to increase personal creativity, the other on improving creativity in teams.* And they both extol the organisational benefits of doing this – better problem-solving, more innovation, improved productivity; in short, getting the best out of oneself and others, individually and collectively,

Nothing wrong with that. It makes perfect sense for organisations to want to realise the maximum potential of their resources, especially their people.

But I wonder if the way we think about creativity means we’re missing a trick here – a vital one.

From Mozart to macramé

Generally, we associate creativity with ideas and imagination and the making of something new; with the arts and – perhaps to a lesser extent – the sciences. And often we attribute creative skills to special, talented people – artists, inventors, scientific geniuses. The Michaelangelos, Mozarts and Einsteins of this world and those who follow in their footsteps.

Of course, there’s creativity in everyday life, too – in cooking and gardening, in DIY and crafting and hobbies and, well, in the myriad ways in which the human urge to make things and interact is expressed.

But I’d like to suggest a more fundamental way to think about creativity.

It underpins the vast majority of our positive activity as human beings. And yet when we talk about ‘creativity’ it rarely gets a mention, perhaps because we take it so much for granted.

It’s the creativity that’s achieved whenever we meet basic human needs, our own or others’ – the creation of value.

Human Needs Theory argues that we’re all driven by the urge to satisfy a range of our fundamental physical, emotional and psychological needs; that we adopt various (often ineffective) strategies to do so; and that we experience positive emotions – value – when our needs are met and negative emotions when they’re not.

For example, we’re strongly social beings and have various needs linked to this – the need to be accepted by ‘the group’, to be acknowledged, heard, understood and respected; to be seen in a positive light; to have some status. Our needs are many and overlapping (as we discuss in our book and on our courses) and when they’re met we feel good.

Value creation and creativity

The key point is that because of this we move – consciously or not – towards relationships, situations and environments that meet our needs and away from those that don’t. What’s more, as our needs are met we tend to become more open, more collaborative and, yes, more creative. But if they’re not we become more closed, uncooperative and sullen, even destructive.

Bottom line?

When organisations create value by striving to meet the basic human needs of all of their people at all levels (and of their customers, suppliers and stakeholders), they’ll find that the other sorts of creativity they’re desperate to encourage – the innovation, problem-solving and so on – all become turbocharged.

And the bottom line to that is it doesn’t take a creative genius to create value. We can all do it – just by seeking to understand and meet the human needs of the very next person we encounter.

It’s this approach that stands at the heart of (value) creative conversation, which we can practise with everyone, every day.

So the real question is – what’s stopping us?

To which I'll return in a future blog…

*The Articles

How to free your innate creativity

How to nourish your team's creativity

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