Every consultant will tell you that a successful business of today tends to require creativity or, better still, managers who are able to create and bring in new ideas. Companies that have come to realize this fact are beginning to create environment in which the creativity is supported.

Environment either supports or suppresses creativity

Environment and circumstances are exactly the two determinants that may support or suppress creativity. People often hold the view - wrongly, though - that creativity is an exclusive realm of geniuses. It is not true. Although some people are more talented than others, each normal mature person is able to work creatively, if given the needed conditions. Thus, the creativity is not only possible, but also desirable in all modes of work; in addition, it can be developed further and cultivated.  

Children are the most creative. Picasso once said about them: „All children are artists. The problem is how to remain as artist having grown up.“ It can also be illustrated with the experience of George Land, the co-author of the book The Breaking Point. Land recalls having 1600 five-year-olds fill in a creativity test back in 1968, one NASA had been using for selection of the engineering and scientific talent. Then he had the same group of children fill the test five and ten years later. 

While at the age of five as many as 98 % of the children filled the test correctly, at ten it was only 30 % and at fifteen as few as 12 % of the original participants did successfully in the test. „Facing this reality, we could not but draw the conslusion that our school instruction supresses creativity,“ stated Land.

The very essential aspect of creativity is not to fear a failure. There are professions where we can see the creative approach more frequently. Apart from the sphere of art, within the corporate environment, it is most often the middle and the line management who, according to the researches done, are particularly close to the practical solutions of tasks. In most cases, they do not get inspiration of genius or divine enlightment from above, but do lots of painstaking work while overcoming obstacles to efficiency. By the way, Thomas Alva Edison, in his time, defined genius as „one per cent of inspiration and ninety-nine per cent of perspiration“ or sweat. 

Clearly, creative thinking and innovation represent the one basic precondition of every company´s success today. It is not a coincidence that the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, chose in 2006 „the imperative of creativity“ as its core topic.

Research done in eight hundred private companies has shown that, on the average, **the whole quarter of their revenues come from new products and services**, and that the creative approach to solving the problems has had a positive effect on the companies´ internal operation, too. 

The spirit of creativity has a positive impact on the workplace atmosphere as well. The creativity-oriented workplace is a place where people like to be working. 

How to tell companies supporting creativity

  • They do not personalize conflicts - unlike a passive endorsement, confrontation of different views promotes a creative atmosphere. Naturally, on condition that the disputes do not pass into the personal level where who says it is more imporant than what is actually said. 
  • They appreciate individuality and variety - different personality types and variable cultural background bring different views of a particular problem and its possible solutions, which is regarded as an advantage, and not as a drawback. 
  • They encourage fun at work - they do not follow the maxim that when people laugh and joke while working, their performance cannot be worth much. Where there is no playfulness, there is mostly no creative thinking either.
  • They reward curiosity - they do not tolerate managers who indiscriminately turn down doubts raised by their subordinates about usefulness of the procedures introduced. Working smarter gets more recognition than working harder. Making a mistake is admittable. They are aware that not every creative initiative is bound to succeed, which, on the other hand, does not mean that repetitive errors will be tolerated. 
  • They do not threaten with sanctions - creativity demands freedom. However, no creativity prospers in the atmosphere of scare and fear of sanctions for the failure to obey the rules. 

It is quite likely that no successful company of the future will be able to do without creative managers. On the other hand, we need to be aware of the fact that in order to constitute working environment that promotes creativity we absolutely have to have a team of both progressive and loyal managers. 

This article has been acquired from an external resource  - Právo daily 28.02.2007, Author: Jiří Rychlý