Company Culture
TWIJ / Workplace culture

How to encourage creativity in the workplace

What is creativity, do you actually have it and can you get more of it? Strategist Natalie Nixon gives us advice on The TWIJ Show.

Creativity strategist Natalie Nixon joins The TWIJ Show. ( image)
If creativity is the skill of creation, and technologies are tools made with new processes, you might expect every technology firm to consider itself creative.

But it isn’t that easy, says Natalie Nixon, the creative strategist and president of Figure 8 Thinking.

Creativity isn’t what you make but how you make it. Creativity comes from asking — and welcoming — questions. It comes from discomfort in uncertainty. Or as Nixon herself puts it: “Creativity is toggling between wonder and rigor.”

Granted, the longer an organization is in operation, the easier it can be for complacency to set in. But Nixon cites big, decades-old, household name brands that continue to creative — Apple and Trader Joe’s being examples she gives. Likewise, it may be easier for younger firms to give space for creativity, but not all protect that space.

Nixon notes that leaders of any organization can rush too quickly to replication with “returning to the why.” Creativity takes considerable mental energy, and it’s always far easier to do what has already been done. Creation takes resources.

That’s from her new book “The Creativity Leap” (Penguin Random House). Nixon spent time in dance and fashion before pursuing a Ph.D. in design management from the University of Westminster in London. She’s been an adjunct professor and frequent speaker on topics of design thinking and its relationship to creativity and innovation while maintaining her consulting practice.

Noting that most everybody thinks they’re creative, I spoke to Nixon about challenging that and how to encourage creativity in the workplace for the latest episode of The TWIJ Show, an interview series about building better companies.

One tactical piece of advice she gave all of us to remain creative? “Become a clumsy student” of something you’re interested in but not expert in.

(For further insight from Nixon, check out her guest post on why creativity is crucial to survival in chaotic times.)

Series: Workplace Culture Month 2020 / Builders

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