Tag Archive for organizational culture

You Don’t Have to Wear Skinny Jeans

I want you to try something. Walk around your department or organization, and ask people how creative they are. Say something like “Would you say you’re not as creative as most people, just as creative as most people, or more creative than most people?” 

And then watch them squirm.

It’s an interesting question to hear people answer, both in terms of how they answer the question and why they answer the question the way they do. Most seem to fidget, at least momentarily, or look off into the distance as if the answer were inscribed on some distant wall and they were trying to make it out.

After the pause, you’ll get one of the three options listed in the original question. In their minds, they’re either not as creative as most people, just as creative as most people, or more creative than most people.

The follow-up question, then, is “Why do you think that?”

This is where it seems to get more difficult for folks to answer. The reason for this–at least partly–is that people have all these strange notions in their heads about what “creativity” or “being creative” is. Some people equate creativity with wearing skinny jeans, having unkempt hair, and producing some sort of art, be it on a sheet of music or a piece of canvas. In many minds, that’s a picture of what a creative person is and looks like.

Others have a broader view of creativity. They see creativity as being able to occur on a grand scale or a not-so-grand scale. They see it in pieces of art, and they see it in cleverly constructed spreadsheets. They see it in beautifully-crafted original music, and they note it in how organizations treat and relate to their people.

You see, the thing we’ve got to get our teams and organizations to understand is that most people are creative in some way, shape, or form and to some degree. Most people, given the right environment and tools, can be creative in that they can think of new ways to do things, or time after time find ways to make things that are already good, better.

So one key for leaders, then, is to find ways to create environments for people that allow them to exercise that creativity. Create venues for them to explore their creativity–whatever that looks like for them–and make your team and organization better.

The other key–and this one is likely a prerequisite–is helping your team and organization understand that creativity is about more than wearing skinny jeans. It looks different from person to person, both in its degree and its expression.

As organizations and leaders, it’s incumbent upon us to find ways to unlock the creativity in people, and help them discover things about themselves that they may not yet see.

8 Signs You May Be a Meddling Manager


8 Signs you may be a meddling manager (or person, for that matter):

1. It’s not enough that people answer you one time.

You have this need to know everything, even if you tell yourself and others you don’t.

2. They have to answer you multiple times. About the same topic and/or question.

This is often tied to a control issue, and can be misunderstood as a trust issue by the recipient of the questioning.

The-best-executive-is-one-who-has-sense-enough-to-pick-good-people-to-do-what-he-wants-done,-and-self-restraint-enough-to-keep-from-meddling-with-them-while-they-do-it.3. It’s not enough that they have to answer you multiple times about the same topic or question. They have to do that on multiple days and occasions. It becomes a lifestyle.

This becomes frustrating to them, which in turn frustrates you to see that they’re frustrated with you.

4. It’s not enough that people answer your questions. They also have to justify their answers to you. You need their rationale. All. The. Time.

Eventually their answers alone aren’t enough. You need to know why. Every time.

5. It’s not enough that people justify their answers to you. They have to justify their answers to you repeatedly. Remember that lifestyle thing? Yeah.

It becomes a vicious and exhausting cycle.

6. It’s not enough that people justify themselves to you repeatedly. They have to justify themselves repeatedly to you until they provide a justification you deem valid.

At this point, though you wouldn’t say it like this, you really are, for all practical purposes, wanting this person to think exactly like you. It begins to seem like you might just secretly feel that you always know better than others.

7. You unwittingly and often unintentionally anoint yourself the ultimate arbiter of what they should or should not do, when they should or should not do it, and with whom they should or should not do it.

Refer to the above.

8. Soon, you may even find yourself doing this with their personal lives as well as their professional lives. You’ve accidentally gone from micromanaging them at work, to meddling in the entirety of their lives.

Yikes. If that’s you, be self-aware enough to realize it, and humble enough to admit it and quit it. That way, everyone wins.

6 Non-Creative Thoughts on Creativity

creativityisintelligencefuneinsteinAs cliché a topic as it may be, creativity, and especially creativity within organizational settings, fascinates me. In some ways, I think it fascinates a lot of people though. We spend oodles of time reading about it, blogging about it, wondering if we have it, wondering how we get our teams to display more of it, or at least how not to discourage them from being creative.

One of the cool things about creativity is that every leader, every employee, and indeed every organization has the potential to be creative and likely already is to at least some degree.

But if all this is true, why haven’t “we” — and by “we” I mean the biz world at large and our respective workplaces specifically — got this thing down yet? Here are at least a few reasons that come to mind off the top of my head, as well as considerations for helping us think through what creativity is and isn’t.

I’m sure you can think of more. Feel free to add those in the comments section below!

1. People misunderstand what creativity actually is.

It’s not always going to be some big, shiny, new, amazing thing. Sometimes we think and/or talk ourselves right out of believing we can be creative by defining it incorrectly. In our heads occasionally, anything less than recreating the wheel (what exactly would that be, anyway?) isn’t creativity.

Well, as many of my fellow Mazumans and Mojo mates have heard me say a time or twelve, words mean things. And here’s what creativity actually means:

  • the state or quality of being creative.
  • the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
  • the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

2. Bureaucracy gets in the way of creativity.

Leaders need to find ways to be more idea-friendly. Here are 6 ways they can do that.

3. Sometimes creativity is simplicity.

In a lot of instances, creativity is actually finding ways to make things simpler for people. It’s not about finding new, complex products and services. It’s about making others’ lives simpler.

4. The good idea usually starts as a bad idea.

Great, creative ideas rarely, if ever, come out fully formed and ready to implement. That’s why collaboration and connection are so important.

5. Companies are more often built to maintain than create.

Take a look around you. Is your team built and structured to create or simply maintain? Do you hire people with a propensity to create? Or are you more interested in folks who’ve demonstrated an ability to consistently maintain?

6. Understand that organizations are always trending one way or another.

There’s always some sort of trajectory. Creating increases the likelihood that that’s a forward trajectory. That means sometimes you just have the sand to say “to hell with the data” and create something.

What else ya got? Any other comments? Suggestions? Things you find especially helpful as you think about creativity?