Authentic Workplaces for Creativity

Is your workplace authentically creative?  How can you tell?

People ask why organizations resist creativity and I’m thinking it’s because they don’t know how to embrace it. Many people in organizations are unaware of theblow your mind behaviours, actions, and leadership required to instill and support the creative spirit at work which could have a negative impact on advancing innovation.

Tom Reeves, University of Georgia together with Jan Harrington and Ron Oliver from the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, gave a conference presentation on authentic training activities reported in Play for Performance, 2002 by the Thiagi Group. The Thiagi Group do great work ‘improving performance playfully’ – through simulation gaming. Magnificent stuff. Compelling. I’ve been a Thiagi fan since taking a graduate course in simulation gaming at Buffalo State. His work influences how I lead training activities and team enhancement programs to this day.

The Authentic Activity Checklist gives simulation gaming leaders an opportunity to assess their programs.  When I reread it, I saw many of these qualities can be also be applied to assess authentic workplaces for creativity. No research here, just some rough thinking that seem to make sense. I’m curious to know how this checklist adapted from that article works for you. Editorial comments appear in italics following some of the points.

Authentic Workplaces for Creativity
  • Require employees to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the job. Problems are not solved by the simple application of a step-by-step procedure or formula. Staff must break down the problem into tasks and sub-tasks in order to solve it. And when they do, they can create new ideas and make new decisions regarding how its accomplished. They can also challenge assumptions about various aspects of the task and find ways to make it easier, more efficient, etc.
  • Require employees to spend time exploring and solving problems. Truly authentic workplaces for creativity expect days, weeks, and months rather than minutes or hours to come to a solution.
  • Provide opportunity for staff to examine tasks from different perspectives and use a variety of viewpoints and resources rather than use a single theory or model. Multiple perspectives are expected rather than the exception.
  • Provide the opportunity to collaborate through teamwork. See posts Repeat After Me and Why do People Create? for personality factors in collaboration.
  • Provide the opportunity to reflect and involve employees’ beliefs and values. Staff make informed choices and provide ample experiences for reflection and discuss and debrief or review. Here’s Thiagi’s debriefing guide any leader can use. It’s easy to use and works like a charm.
  • Encourage a cross-functional approach that requires employees to appreciate different roles and responsibilities in other departments, units, etc. See post Grokking in Fullness
  • Seamlessly integrate performance assessments throughout task accomplishment. Continual affirming and corrective feedback is sought and offered.
  • Create polished products and/or services.
  • Allow competing solutions and diversity of outcomes. They permit different unique and creative solutions, rather than a single correct answer obtained by the application of predefined rules and procedures.

Work for you?  Would these qualities be included in your understanding of a creative workplace?

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