The following article about creativity in the workplace is a piece of gonzo journalism by Chris McCarron, the founder and owner of GoGoChimp.
Companies seem to agree that creativity in the workplace has some kind of widespread appeal in business, but nobody can say exactly why.
Not even recruitment managers seem to know, although some can be very articulate when it comes to details.
“I love creativity,” said a 53-year-old female HR manager in Glasgow’s West End, the Scottish creatives’ capital. “It’s something that should be a part of everything you do in the workplace, you know?”
I nodded as I admired her frame. It was clear she worked out, but this HR manager was a Hulk. She was a living, breathing cartoon with inflatable biceps and a head vaguely resembling a shaved coconut.
So, it didn’t come as a surprise when she compared creative ideas and innovation to muscle mass.
“Creativity is like a muscle, you know? Anyone who gives a damn about working out and sculpting their body knows that you need to push your muscles to their limit. Repeatedly, day after day, to see any notable gain in mass.”
“Ironic” I replied as she paused to nibble on a Whey protein bar.
I knew that 94% of hiring managers believe creativity to be one of the most important things to consider when assessing candidates. Creative problem solving also happens to be the second most difficult skill to find among job applicants.
“You’re right because nobody is allowed to be creative in the workforce, or free and happy. What’s the point looking for creative employees when they don’t let them use their skills, ya know?”
I then asked whether the company she worked for is actively encouraging creative problem-solving or the use of psychedelics to open the pathways to innovation.
“Never. I was in a mental hospital once because I tried to conform and play the game. But now I just express my creativity at the gym and on Instagram” she replied.
“I can’t remember the last time someone took a dose of acid or handful of Psilocybe Azurescens’ (a powerful magic mushroom). It’s a shortcut to a different reality; it throws you right into it. Everyone should take them, even cleaners. Why shouldn’t they be enlightened while cleaning toilets, instead of waiting till they’re retired? Human beings need total freedom and absolute creativity in their lives. That’s where God and the Machine Elves are at. We need to go back to the purity of our imagination.”
That’s about the most decisive and honest comment anybody’s ever going to get from a practising HR representative. Unlike beatnik mid-level managers, many of whom are glorified babysitters with a strong distrust of their department and creative problem solvers.
Creativity is mocked, and anyone who dares to use their imagination is called “freaks” and “weirdos” by their managers. Because of this ignorance, few employees feel they can articulate their creative nature. They prefer to communicate by dancing, or touching, or extrasensory perception (ESP) at the annual Christmas Party.
Pucio, et al’s study found that when companies use creative problem-solving sessions they produce 350% more ideas than companies that don’t.
They also found that when companies use creative problem-solving sessions attended by employees that on a consistent basis use creativity tools, they produce 415% more original ideas.
However, Gallup found that each year, less than 35% of employees are given more than one opportunity to be creative at work.
That leaves a lot of room for subjective interpretation, and therein lies the key to a creative employee’s widespread appeal. There’s so much creative potential that’s waiting to be unleashed.
But as desirable as creativity is in the workplace, employees aren’t given the opportunity to use it.
IBM’s CEO once exclaimed something along the lines of, “if you’re creative then you’re destined for great things”. Therefore, is restrained creativity a symptom of a lack of opportunities to progress in an organization?
Global executives at The World Economic Forum believe that you need creativity for 9 out of 10 of the most important skills that CEOs use.
Therefore, companies are purposely shooting themselves in the foot by not nurturing creativity from the bottom up as great employees could achieve great things at every level of an organization.
It appears that creativity is a social class in the workplace. Mid to low managers have a narrow focus; they think about silly things like “productivity” and “dominance over team members“. They aren’t creative and refuse to understand it or value it.
However, at the top tiers, it’s a creative commune of directors and CEOs going on company trips to play shotgun golf on shrooms. They are those who open their minds to fresh ideas and innovative solutions.
The question remains: how many world changers are stuck in low tier jobs because they aren’t allowed to express their creativity?
Maybe this is the greatest untapped growth hack in history. Let people be creative and they’ll nuke the competition with a payload of original ideas.
But let’s be honest: the employee is just as responsible for their wasted potential as the company itself.
Misery and waiting for death in exchange for a steady paycheck and a lunch break is not an excuse.
If they’re creative, then they need creativity in the workplace as much as they need water and fresh air.