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Be creative! You would have heard this comment from your employer at least once. What does he/she mean by creativity? Most of us associate the word ‘creativity’ with skills like painting a picture or writing a novel. Yes, all these are creative endeavours, but all critical thinkers are not artists. To be simple, creativity refers to the ability to create something new. Is there any room for creativity in the workplace?

Creative employees can improve business for the better. At the workplace, creativity means adding a new perspective to something. Many senior employees who are accustomed to a certain way of implementing a task would be reluctant to change it and would be blind to the benefits that the change may bring.

On the contrary, a new-hire may look at it from a fresh perspective and find a better way of implementing the same task which would save costs and time. So, creative thinking is a skill that every employee should possess as it may open up a plethora of possibilities for his/her organization.

Being creative at work requires the courage to voice your opinion without the fear of making a mistake. Believe it or not, the most creative ideas have always been ridiculed by many. The key is to share your ideas and stand firm on it regardless of the response.

Creative thinking definition

Creative thinking refers to looking at something in a new perspective or thinking out-of-the-box. Creative employees will find novel ways to carry out tasks, solve problems, and meet challenges. It requires a mind that always searches for a better way. It is similar to alternative thinking wherein one distances himself/herself from the preconceived normal ideas to find an alternative way of approaching a problem.

Promoting creative thinking at workplace

The most important goal of management in an organization is to boost productivity. Productivity is a natural outcome at a workplace that fosters creativity. The ideal organization is the one that succeeds in forgetting the traditional way of implementing a project and embrace a new way suggested by an employee.

Flexibility and being open to new ideas is the key to excellence. Every organization should maintain an environment wherein the employees can think beyond the boundaries and have the freedom to discuss it with the senior employees.

Creative problem solving is an area that can help the organization for the better. It refers to the ability to solve a problem that has a lot of resolutions in the best possible way. Creative thinkers can come up with novel solutions that can redefine the business in all aspects.

Managers should always recognize and appreciate the creative ideas of the employees to encourage them. Creative leadership is the ideal management principle that involves experimenting with different problem-solving methods without the fear of failure.

Mental blocks to creative thinking

Being said about encouraging creativity at the workplace, certain mental blocks hinder this process. These are the hurdles within an individual that don’t allow him/her to think creatively.

  • There is only one ‘right’ answer

One of the major disadvantages of the conventional education system is the reliance on the one ‘right’ answer. All students are supposed to follow the same answer which has been held right for decades. In this way, their creative thinking is suppressed from an early stage.

In the same way, new employees also follow the procedures which have been followed in the organization for long without questioning it. There is often more than one ‘right’ answer, but the fact is that nobody tries to find it out.

  • Logical thinking

Does being creative means being illogical? Not necessarily, but some of the finest creative masterpieces in English literature are illogical and can be enjoyed only after ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ (a phrase coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge). You have to accept that real life is sometimes illogical and logical thinking is not always possible. So, try to come up with some innovative ideas rather than sticking onto the ‘truth’ which is often symbolic.  

  • Fear of being wrong

Though everyone is scared of making mistakes, nothing can teach us better than our mistakes. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” is a famous quote by Albert Einstein. So, don’t hesitate to try something new due to the fear of making mistakes.

  • Following rules

Rules are established to ensure a systematic way of working. But, following rules too strictly can instill a fear of trying new things as it deviates from the norms. Creativity is linked to freedom of thought and crossing the boundaries of the accepted standards. If you look back into history, many of the rebels who broke the rules are remembered forever for their discoveries. From today, start breaking some rules for good reasons.

  • ‘That’s not my job’

Well, this is a hazardous way of thinking that can harm your career progression. Some people may prefer to perform only the assigned tasks and hold their creative thinking abilities because they believe it’s not their job. Career progression will happen only when you experiment with something and bring valuable changes to your organization.

Always motivate yourself to contribute positively to your organization. You should step out of our specialized field if you want to prove your skill in a new area.

Creative thinking is a skill that can be developed with practice. Even if you think that you are not a creative person, you can develop creative thinking ability. Try to accept new challenges, value the ideas of your colleagues, try doing things differently, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.