Creativity in the Workplace

When researching how creativity and innovation are managed in the workplace, I found a woman who I thought was one of the best examples of the results of creativity.

This lady was a receptionist in one of the lobbies of a huge semiconductor company.  When I sat in the lobby initially I wondered why she would have been hired as a receptionist.  She was neither young, pretty, or skilled at English.  Then I watched.

She was aware of everything that was happening around her and responded with ease and grace.  For example: 

  • A family came into the lobby.  The husband was looking for work as a janitor.  Instead of shuffling them off as being in the wrong place, Ms. Receptionist took the time and trouble to tell them the correct building for applying, and gave them directions to get there.
  • Someone left their briefcase in the lobby.  She noticed it, although it wasn’t obvious.  She called the owner, even remembering who had been in the lobby last.

These are just two of many examples of how focused, caring, and creative she was in handling a job that in others would have been boring and routine. 

I later learned that she ws one of the most liked and rewarded (flowers, candy, books, small gifts, attaboys, etc.) people in the company.

When we think of creativity and innovation we usually think of research and development or great marketing schemes.  But the potential for it happens everywhere in the organization and it can be either nurtured or stifled.

Unfortunately, most of the 50 C level executives I interviewed felt that creativity and innovation were mostly stifled in their organizations.  They blamed mid-management for the problem and gave me oodles of examples.  Perhaps another time I’ll share some of those with you.

But, the manager is in the middle.  He or she is often challenged by delivering deliverables and fears allowing staff extra time to go the extra mile or to suggest a change in process.  Too bad.

Because it is when we get out of crisis management and into planning organizating, thinking, experimenting with new ways (Covey’s I & II) that simplification can occur. 

In other words, slowing down and thinking allows for creative solutions to emerge.

This is my last post for this round.  I hope you enjoyed reading a different point of view.  My work – my ability to question the traditional – and my ability to stimulate new thinking in others, is what allows my clients to grow professionally and become more crative and innovative in their workplace.

Bye for now – ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D.


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