Almost all working executives have experienced barriers to creativity and innovative approaches. In some cases as a direct ‘No No’, in others in a subtler way and in yet some other organizations after some lethargic acknowledgment.
Why these barriers? If at all anything, these serve as a road block to enthusiastic and creative workforce. Most of the time creativity is killed on account of perception of the senior most leadership, which eventually cascades to the next level of leadership and builds into the culture. Not encouraging creativity causes organizations to be lackadaisical and not ideate to renew. This in turn leads to obsolescence, which is unwanted by any organization. Let’s understand these barriers and how we can overcome these to realize the potential of creativity and innovation at work.
Mindset – change it!
Often a new suggestion or idea is opposed by others or seniors. It is human nature to resist change because it will cause shifting from the comfort zone – moving from certainty to uncertainty. Management also might be hesitant because they are not able to get strong evidence on how such a change might benefit or what will be the probable return on investment.
Fear of Embarrassment – don’t be shy
Fear goes a long way in inhibiting people. Remember when you wanted to ask a question in a meeting or discussion and kept quiet because you thought people would think of you as ‘silly’? It is the same element which stops people from thinking out of the box and creatively simply because they would rather be one along with the masses. Acceptance matters much to human beings.
In large organizations, while there is a genuine need for policies and regulations to be in place, so as to extend uniformity in the working culture, often these fixed rules and conditions curb employees from thinking beyond their roles. The ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ is a double edged sword. It helps in establishing a ‘fair to all’ ambience but at the same time limits creative thinking because of several ‘Don’ts’.
Lack of Support and Continuity
Coming up with creative ideas perhaps is easier as compared to implementation and gestation of the idea and waiting for it to establish, flourish and finally bear fruit! Given that the human mindset itself resists change, there are various stages to such resistance. In some pro and supportive members, there is a gnawing fear of the viability of a creative initiative. Many initiatives are nipped before they can bloom and bear merit. If an organization agrees on an idea and its implementation, it needs to stand by and support such efforts by understanding pains and challenges involved rather than prematurely terminating it by stating that ‘atleast we gave it a chance’.
Lack of Avenues
The most popular way in which companies are known to encourage creativity is by installing a lifeless ‘Suggestions’ box. While we are not saying that the management of human resources team do not pay heed to such suggestions, many of these thoughts just perish as if they never were submitted. Organizations should create different avenues for idea submission and have some structure around it so that the creative bulbs of your teams have their ways and means to be heard. Even if an idea cannot be implemented, it surely can be acknowledged, announced, celebrated! This is will encourage others too.
Lead – give the initial direction
For those of you high on creativity, we are sure you might have observed that most often you face opposition or reluctance from those who are really high on producitivity as they might see your ideas as a deviation, non-tested and risky way of moving ahead with. Many times, creativity faces conflicts simply because it might not be relevant to some, while those ideating it might have different thoughts and convictions about it. It will help a big deal if the management gives direction to what kind of issues they need new ideas on. Set the context and probably even make some suggestions to to employees from where they can get a cue.
By encouraging your employees to ideate and innovate, you can keep them enthusiastic, inclined to research and study, experiment and a lot more. Barriers to creativity and innovation not only stop employees from proactively thinking about the organizations future but can also result in stagnation and possibly degrowth of the organization.
With this mind, do take time to identify if your team / organization experiencing these creative fences, especially at a time when your organization nees to rejuvenate and be competitve? If you try to embrace and blend in some of the above steps, we are sure it will result in a new culture at your organization – one of thoughtfulness towards the organizations goals, one of creativity and innovation.