4 reasons why creativity is good for your business

 

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During my research I came a cross interesting study from 2014. It was delivered by independent Forrester Consulting group and focuses on the impact that creativity can have on business results. Now, when we think of business performance and innovation first things that come into our mind are productivity and technology, but what about the most important part of human resources – creativity? Well, this study tries to answer some of these questions.

During the study, many senior managers that come from corporations across a diverse set of industries were surveyed and interviewed  to give their quantitative and  qualitative overview of how creativity impacts business results (you can read the report here).

In general, the study confirms what I always truly believed: creativity is a resource and skill that can be nurtured in organizations with aim to recharge business performance in terms of  key business indicators, like innovation rate, revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition.

Key findings in this study also include that:

  • Despite the perceived benefits of creativity, 61% of companies do not see their companies as creative.
  • More companies that foster creativity achieve exceptional revenue growth comparing to their peers.
  • More creative companies enjoy greater market share and competitive leadership.
  • More creative companies win recognition as a best place to work.
  • Companies put creativity on the business agenda.
  • Creativity thrives with leadership support.

What also we can learn from these conclusions is:

  1. In any kind of work and entrepreneurship creativity is becoming a vital currency for us to monetize our competitive advantage.
  1. Creativity can help us moves forward on the leadership ladder in our industry.
  1. Business that encourages creativity is a healthier working place.
  1. Business that encourages creativity is more attractive both to customers and potential coworkers.

How creativity is treated in your work place? Please share in the comments bellow. And as an inspiration for your creativity at work I’ve included a poem to keep you motivated and on track:

Team Work by Edgar A. Guest

It’s all very well to have courage and skill

And it’s fine to be counted a star,

But the single deed with its touch of thrill

Doesn’t tell the man you are;

For there’s no lone hand in the game we play,

We must work to a bigger scheme,

And the thing that counts in the world to-day

Is, How do you pull with the team?

They may sound your praise and call you great,

They may single you out for fame,

But you must work with your running mate

Or you’ll never win the game;

Oh, never the work of life is done

By the man with a selfish dream,

For the battle is lost or the battle is won

By the spirit of the team.

You may think it fine to be praised for skill,

But a greater thing to do

Is to set your mind and set your will

On the goal that’s just in view;

It’s helping your fellowman to score

When his chances hopeless seem;

Its forgetting self till the game is o’re

And fighting for the team.

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4 things nobody tells you about managing creativity

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Often when I think of poetry I find many similarities with the way we induce innovative thinking. Language and words are our main tools. In innovation practice, ideas and knowledge are our tools that bring forth an idea into life. But not any idea: it has to be the right idea. Just as much as the poem has to use the right words to translate an emotion; an experience. The order of words, their flow and rhythm need to be comprised in the best possible way – in the same fashion, an innovative idea needs to solve the problem, improve function or usage.

Poets need a large vocabulary to ‘play’ with; arrange and disarrange words (even invent new ones) to precisely convey their meaning, simulate tone and voice: so does innovators and design thinkers need a deep knowledge of science, engineering, management and business processes to deliver an innovative product.

Yet, doesn’t everything happen in desired moment when we need it. A lot of factors and conditions influence the process of innovative thinking, no matter how much we try to take the control of situation (having the tools and skills we need, time and space, and other resources).

We too much dwell on the speed of innovation, becoming to much obsessed with competition, costs, who delivers innovation.

Questions about what creativity really is, how to harness creative potential that every employee carries and fostering creative spirit for the higher good (contribution and purpose) are neglected and overlooked. In between those moments, real creative solutions somehow slip through the cracks of management rules, policies, principles. In the end, many organizations experience product saturation and volatile stagnation.

There is poem by Ted Hughes: The Thought Fox

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest: 
Something else is alive 
Beside the clock’s loneliness 
And this blank page where my fingers move.  

Through the window I see no star: 
Something more near

Though deeper within darkness 
Is entering the loneliness: 

Cold, delicately as the dark snow, 
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf; 
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now 

Sets neat prints into the snow 
Between trees, and warily a lame 
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow 
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,

A widening deepening greenness, 
Brilliantly, concentratedly, 
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox

It enters the dark hole of the head.

The window is starless still; the clock ticks,

The page is printed. 

After reading the poem, it is obvious that he tells a story about the struggle poet has while writing. But it can have a much deeper meaning: we can put an analogy in this poem to a struggle we face while in any type of creating. It poses questions: what generates creative idea, can we ‘catch’ it on time, how to make that ‘element of surprise’ part of our every day life and welcome it, open-handed? Is it even possible?

Creativity can be seen as something that is alive but hidden, mysterious. It looks for loneliness, isolation to show its face:

‘Though deeper within darkness 
Is entering the loneliness’

In the beginning is gentle and cautious. We have to observe it with care, not to scare our “fox” idea:

‘A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf; 

Sets neat prints into the snow’ 

And then, there is a breakthrough moment, powerful – even bombastic, when all gentleness is gone, when idea appears in its full dimension and brightness:

‘Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox

It enters the dark hole of the head’

The poem suggests, to some extent creativity includes tactful and careful planning, a lot of brevity,  but we cannot always predict when exactly is going to ‘strike’. Can we prepare for the creativity “attack”? The best we can do is to be open and responsive to the signs it leaves for us; to awaken that childhood curios nature (even in business organizations) when we ‘spy with our little eye’ every spark, just ready to let it ignite our creative spirit.

Poetry and Creativity: crucial blocks in building leadership qualities

Hand holding two matching white paper jigsaw puzzles which written leadership word

To lead people, walk behind them.

– Lao Tzu

Success and power can easily hinder our good intentions, making our egos rise like skyscrapers and constantly generate that insatiable need for more. Many of those who fall into this trap, simply never look back, who they are leaving behind, creating unbridgeable gap between themselves as a “leader” and their peers.

But it has never become more clearly as in nowadays modern organizational structures that a good leader cannot be someone who imposes false authority: leader needs to inspire, guide, set an example for other coworkers. A good leader needs to have and foster a dynamic personality, be able to seize the opportunity, recognize talent and bring the best out of people.

I usually think of good leaders as magnificent puzzle solvers: they have that ability to utilize available human resources and reorganize their team in such way that each problem/situation can be managed – like solving the puzzle.

Now, how that relates to poetry?

Poetry can awaken those subtle human qualities that we need to develop in order to become good leaders. It helps us live and understand human experience which is a crucial part of creative process: taste of life and our perspective of the world motivate us  to generate more ideas and innovative solutions.

Organizational life can be draining and sometimes makes us hardly cope with everyday activities. Poetry reconnects us with those forgotten parts – instead of just surviving the working week, it can help us remember who we are and how to thrive, focusing on our best qualities.

In my opinion there is a quite similarity between leaders and poets. Leaders just as poets initiate thoughts and conversation about ideas, causes, motivation and engagement. Both poets and leaders have that ability to touch our souls, minds and connect us on the most intricate levels.

Our world is too complex with overlapping issues and processes: poetry has that magical ability to simplify things and life in general. In other words, reading and writing poetry can support any leader to better conceptualize the world and communicate it.

Furthermore, poem can provide wisdom and insight in the most difficult times. I hope that poem below will inspire your work, persistence and help you seize your value in every team, every relationship, every situation:

Focused Effort Prevails by Henry W. Longfellow

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

 

We have not wings, we cannot soar;

But we have feet to scale and climb,

By slow degrees, by more and more,

The cloudy summit of our time.

A Poem by Rudyard Kipling

doubt4For all those days when your feel insecure, discouraged or even lost;

For all those days when disbelief starts to bite you inside and every idea, every step you take seems pointless – read the verses below:

 

If

…you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a [Founder], my son!

-Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Poetry and storytelling: part I

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

-Lewis Carroll

onceuponatim

In these series of posts “Poetry and Storytelling” I will try to explore possibilities of using poetry as a tool for effective way of storytelling, especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

On the one hand entrepreneur as a storyteller and entrepreneur story as a cultural phenomena is already intrinsically established in the group consciousness (especially within the emerging social media networks), yet poetry as a narrative technique and genre is rarely considered as a mean of explaining entrepreneurial journey.

Through literature we can find a lot of evidence where entrepreneurial skills, behavior and entrepreneur’s relationship with the world comes in the form of narrative fables like picaresque tales  which McKenzie, B (2002) in “Understanding Entrepreneurship: A Definition and Model Based on Economic Activity and the Pursuit of Self-Identity”, so beautifully demonstrated. The study describes the use of oral narrative by entrepreneurs to exchange important information and induces a new definition of entrepreneurship: an economic activity undertaken by social individuals in their pursuit of self-identity.

O’Connor, E., in the paper “Storied Business: Typology, intertextuality, and traffic in entrepreneurial narrative”, states that “entrepreneur needs to be a storyteller”, an ‘epic hero’, capable of offering emotional connection to his audience, a character with whom audience can identify with, rejoice, suffer, celebrate, fail – simply experience everything. In other words, successful entrepreneur is giving tangible experience through his business story and that’s what makes his story and business alive. Use of mythology, eulogy, metaphor, epic and fairytales, permeated with humor and sudden twists is a winning recipe for a business story that captures attention.

Rationalists, wearing square hats by Wallace Stevens

Rationalists, wearing square hats,

Think, in square rooms,

Looking at the floor,

Looking at the ceiling.

They confine themselves

To right-angled triangles.

If they tried rhomboids,

Cones, waving lines, ellipses—

As for example, the ellipse of the half-moon-

Rationalists would wear sombreros.

These verses clearly signify the importance of creativity as an entrepreneurial skill. Words are empowering and encourage us to think “outside the box”, outside our limited senses and borders given by societal norms.

This poem in particular was used by Price Waterhouse Management Consultants in an advertisement (Sunday Times, 22.10. ’95) to attract open-minded (entrepreneurial) individuals with creative abilities, ready to question and challenge everything that is predefined and ordinary.

Poetry evokes emotions, stimulates thinking and inspiration. In the posts to come, I will further research how successful entrepreneurs have used poetry to communicate their business ideas.

Organize your own creativity workshop!

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.

Creativity-2There are few simple, yet effective exercises that we can apply and practice in our daily routine which will help us to cultivate that creativity spark and productive flow.

But first do some preparations:

Make time

One of the first key things to do is to make time for creative practice/exercise. In my own experience, when ever I feel constrained by time or my tight schedule – it’s simply additional pressure that kills every motivation for creative work. Your mind drifts away thinking about the errands and home chores you need to do…so it’s not going to work. Making time, being able to do things at your own pace is of vital importance.

De-stress

Once you make enough time, it’s very important to set the right “mood” in our mind, simply to get relaxed enough before thinking or brainstorming about new idea.Deep rhythmical breathing for a few minutes, visualization, light yoga or any type of meditation can do a wonder!

These steps allow us to be more gentle with ourselves – meaning that we don’t push ourselves too much if work/idea development doesn’t go the way we want. It can bring additional emotional burden that doesn’t help and doesn’t serve us.

Now, the real fun comes in:

1. Make your own inspiration box or board

One of the things I like to do is to create an inspiration box or an inspiration board: just the process of crafting and creating something you believe will get you closer to your goal is already a step forward. When you collect pleasant items that inspire you (quotes, pictures, poems – anything symbolic to you), that represent who you are, who you want to be, things you enjoy and you find uplifting – whenever you return to your box or board it will refresh your mind and new ideas will start to pop up!

2. Jot things down

Whenever you have an idea – write it down. No matter how silly, impossible, distant from the solution you’ve been contemplating, write it down. This unconstrained writing, where you simply don’t censure your thoughts is a technique called free-writing” or “free association”. You can go even step further and write it in the form of a poem. Surrealist poets were using similar techniques which Andre Breton described in the Surrealist manifesto published in 1924 as a

Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express…the actual functioning of thought…in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.

This process can speed up our solution thinking abilities and help us focus on the task at hand.

3. Be curios about your immediate environment

When I was very little having dolls to play with was not simply enough. I was so curios that almost each toy I had to break into parts to see what’s inside and how it works. Of course I’m not suggesting you take first object in front of you and break it into pieces 🙂 but on the paper or in your mind you can think of its constituent parts and how the object in front of you is interdepended of its generic parts and where do they come from.

For example a window: It consists of frame (wooden, aluminum, ext.) and glass. It might have a blind as well. Glass is made from molten silica at very high temperatures.. and ext. It’s called the “generic-parts technique” and usually people with this habitual way of thinking are better at solving problems through creative insight.

I hope you find these exercises fun and that you might apply them next time you need some inspiration for your work.

And for the end:

An Excerpt form Choose life by Andre Breton

Choose life choose life venerable Childhood

The ribbon coming out of a fakir

Resembles the playground slide of the world

Though Sun is only a shipwreck

Insofar as a woman’s body resembles it

You dream contemplating the whole length of its trajectory

Or only while closing your eyes on the adorable storm named your hand

                                 Choose life

How poetry can stimulate creativity?

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Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.

– Robert Frost

Some interesting results of recent researches, like at the University of Liverpool  – scientists have found that reading poetry and prose can actually stimulate our thinking and creative cognitive abilities much more than for example self-help books, which are nowadays popular way of finding solutions when we are in some sort of crisis or challenging situation. It turns out the more complicated poetry and prose were, the reader’s attention time span was longer and deeper, and it also stimulated their moments of self-reflection.

brain-poetry

Researches in the aforementioned research used a group of volunteers, where with scanners, they have monitored the brain activity as the volunteers read works by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S Eliot and others.

After the reading, the volunteers were asked to “retell” the texts using their own words. Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity: especially the activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with “autobiographical memory” and emotion, helping the reader to reflect on and reappraise their own experiences in light of what they have read.

Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive.

-Proff. Davis from Liverpool University

Some earlier scholar works also attribute poetry to development of cognitive, learning and memory skills. In particular, McGovern and Hogshead in their paper “Learning about writing, thinking about teaching”, describe how poetry can promote writing skills, learning, fosters analytic and creative thinking and problem solving.

Csikszentmihalyi in his paper “Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention”, published in 1996, proves that discussing a poem is an exercise in problem finding, a skill essential to creative work in both the arts and the sciences.

Halonen in his paper “Demystifying critical thinking”, (1995) states that poetry often contains unconventional language or unusual treatment of a topic. Surprise becomes a catalyst for critical thinking as the audience works to resolve subsequent feelings of disequilibrium.

So, when I feel stuck, uninspired I just play with words, rearrange them or observe the environment and describe it in more lyrical way. I have noticed that my attention and emotion shifts – it’s like working on the puzzle: thoughts of possibilities are coming – poetry simply jump-starts our brain’s synapses.

Next time when you need a creativity spark, try to write a poem. Something different, something that you are not accustomed to. In this case there is no bad or good poetry. The aim is to start moving creative juices in our minds and poetry is a great tool for that. Even science agrees 🙂

Achievements by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Trust in thine own untried capacity
As thou wouldst trust in God Himself. Thy soul
Is but an emanation from the whole.
Thou dost not dream what forces lie in thee,
Vast and unfathomed as the grandest sea.
Thy silent mind o’er diamond caves may roll,
Go seek them – but let pilot will control
Those passions which thy favouring winds can be.

No man shall place a limit in thy strength;
Such triumphs as no mortal ever gained
May yet be thine if thou wilt but believe
In thy Creator and thyself. At length
Some feet will tread all heights now unattained —
Why not thine own? Press on; achieve! achieve!

Why poetry and business together?

business-innuendo-poems

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

– Salman Rushdie

 

This blog is about poetry, innovations, creativity and business. And you wonder how can we merge all that in one? My first encounter with poetry was in my second grade when I wrote a poem called “Spring” that was also published in the local school paper. Nobody taught me how to write poems. It simply came naturally. Then, for a couple of years, poetry wasn’t that predominant in my life until first teenage loves came and poetry was a great tool to pour out all of those heartaches and other lavish feelings. But when I think more deeply, poetry was somehow always present in my learning process. I remember especially in my graduate years, while I studied geophysics, I had a subject called Historical Geology where you need to memorize a huge geological time scale, paleontological terms, fossils -and I used rhyme to do that. It made it so much easier.

Then, for my graduation project I was offered to do something related to bio-magnetism – how we can use permanent magnets in medicine for healing purposes. How that relates to geophysics? At first sight it doesn’t but certain principles of geomagnetism we can apply in bio-magnetism processes – but you need to think unconventionally and out of your comfort zone. The project resulted in the application of developed methodology in sense how we can use small magnets as a mean of non-invasive, healing tool in medicine, which was soon afterwards patented.

So my first working experience was dealing with innovation process and patents. Observing world from poetic point of view, gave me confidence to deal with uncertainty, unknown, to let my scientific spirit free so to speak. Later in my teaching process, it helped me develop variety of innovative learning tools to increase imagination and problem solving capabilities in students.

Poetry is fascinating as it helps us get in touch more with our feelings, gives us different perspective on the world around us; we become more receptive of other people’s needs, more empathetic. We learn to train our mind to think more creatively and derive complex situations into more simple structures. No matter how rational and straightforward management and businesses are, reading and writing poetry can help us speed up innovation process and can increase leadership qualities. It ignites our imagination in so many different ways. So stick around as in this blog I will explore all these possibilities and how we can use the beauty of poetry and other arts for improving creative and innovation skills.

Work without hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair –
The bees are stirring -birds are on the wing –
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.