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October 18, 2016

#MTtalk: Sparking Creativity in the Workplace

Yolande Conradie

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Have you ever faced a challenge at work and had no idea how you were going to change the situation? I don't know about you, but I detest feeling hopeless or helpless. If I don't have a solution right away, I at least like having a few ideas to play around with.

I attended a creativity conference recently, where one of the speakers said that ideas on their own don't work but, without them, we're at the mercy of the dictatorship of no alternatives. If ever I heard an uncomfortable truth, that was surely it.

Creativity in the workplace is about much more than painting all your office walls green, orange and purple, and delivering a stunning karaoke performance at the year-end party. Rather, it's about finding new solutions to old problems. It's about making a customer experience delightful. It's about asking your people on the shop floor for their input. Sometimes it's about taking a risk and getting it wrong, and then taking another risk and getting it right.

Creative processes require us to change the way we look at things. Instead of looking at something as it is, we should look at it as it could be. During our Twitter chat on Friday October 14, we asked our participants for the possibilities they saw for "Sparking Creativity in the Workplace."

Here are the questions and some responses from our participants.

Questions about "Sparking Creativity in the Workplace"

Question 1: What do the words "creativity in the workplace" mean to you?

@MicheleDD_MT: Leveraging the diverse perspectives of others.

@LernChance: Get rid of 'old' ways of doing stuff.

@scottturneruon: Permission to try something new with the acceptance that it is not certain to work.

Question 2: What are the benefits of having a creative workforce?

The list of benefits grew long, but the following responses capture the essence:

@mysuccession: Creativity leads to innovation that leads to new heights. Creative workforce will make this easy to achieve.

@ZalkaB: Happy people who are able to "produce" new ideas; invested in their work, are happy to share, learn and grow together.

@TwisterKW: Removes limits, avoid potential ruts, exciting environment, motivated work team, everyone has a voice, move forward, engagement.

Question 3: In your opinion, what is the essence of creativity and is everyone able to be creative?

@amypen64: My freedom to do my job. Everyone is creative in their own way. It's not about presentation, it's about being serving.

@Singh_Vandana: Essence of ‪creativity is freedom to explore, express yourself without fear of being ridiculed. Yes, everyone is capable.

@eng_kyat: Everyone can be creative, but with some practice.

Question 4: What's the top challenge in bringing creativity to the workplace?

Many participants mentioned that failure might happen, but that it's part of the creative process.

@ChaimShapiro: The workplace culture has to be "safe" for prudent risk taking - and sometimes things WILL fail.

@KrisGiere: Control. Most workplaces and bosses want to control everything. Creativity needs freedom to explore, grow, attempt, even fail.

Question 5: How can a company's culture or mood affect creative thinking?

@Midgie_MT: Encouraging everyone to offer ideas and suggestions creates a climate of trust. This in turn can generate more creativity.

@NootsCaboots: If people are sure their ideas are going to be heard, they might be more open to speaking up in future.

@harrisonia: If the company culture only rewards higher-ranking staff, the "worker bees" in the trenches will feel less valued.

Question 6: How have you used creativity in your workplace?

@tweetgayusri: I have changed the boring employee medical scheme into an engaging system.

@Sistadahealer: I do things in the community to utilize my creativity that I can't do at work.

@BrainBlenderTec: Creativity on a daily basis is what give us the adaptability to find new paths and set new trends.

Question 7: What are your favorite creativity tools and/or techniques?

@Dwyka_Consult: Music can cross the bridge between different centers in the brain in a millisecond flat. Great for creativity.

@jeremypmurphy: Freewriting, edit later. Preserve ideas/thoughts first.

Question 8: In which situations is creativity harder to achieve?

The central theme of fear emerged here. If there's fear in the workplace, creativity will suffer.

@SAPTAonline: Creativity is hard to achieve where people do things with ulterior motives. Trust is crucial.

@Yolande_MT: Creativity is hard to achieve if people think they can't do things.

Question 9: How might you engage someone who is resistant to trying creative approaches?

@KrisGiere: Trust them, encourage them when they take risks, uplift them, provide clarity when they are uncertain.

Question 10: What would a creative mindset in your organization or team look like?

@Limha75: It would definitely include people who aren't afraid of a heated debate! Positive disruption = creativity.

@Sistadahealer: It would create a more relaxed, empowered culture versus an on-edge environment. Clients will have more to enjoy.

Next time, on #MTtalk...

Workplace bullying is rife. People who are bullied at work often remain silent and work under extremely stressful conditions. October is anti-bullying month and we will discuss "The Truth About Bullying" in our next #MTtalk on October 28. As always, it will take place at 1 pm EST (6 pm BST). We'd love you to join us on Twitter and help us to identify seemingly innocent behavior by office bullies.

To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on "All Tweets" and you'll be able to follow the live chat feed. To join the conversation, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.

If you’ve ever been a victim of workplace bullying, please take part in our poll, at


In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about creativity, here are some resources:

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2 comments on “#MTtalk: Sparking Creativity in the Workplace”

  1. I like this response:
    "@eng_kyat: Everyone can be creative, but with some practice."
    Creativity is indeed a skill that can be learned and practiced. Creativity is not only about coming up with wild, wacky and wonderful ideas. The receptionist figuring out a way to handle the flow of guests better, is also creative. The home executive who finds a way to recycle or re-use certain products is creative. Creativity is in everybody and it's all around us - it's merely a matter of unlocking it...

    Which brings me to your next topic: How can we be more creative in preventing bullying?
    It saddens me to read about people whose lives derail because they are victims of bullying.

    1. Thanks Rebel for sharing your thoughts. I agree, creativity is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Simply by acknowledging the small ways we are creative can help, from composing an email, responding to a request, making a meal and so much more!

      Your question about creative ways to prevent bullying is an interesting one. I'd say, an this is my person view, start with building up the confidence and self-esteem of everyone so the person does not feel the need to bully others to feel better about themselves!

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