With the right opportunities and context, anybody can express their creative side — and benefit their organization.
One of the most damaging myths about creativity is that there is a “creative personality” that some people have and others don’t.
The truth is that anybody can be creative, given the right opportunities and context. What leads to creative work are all things you can implement within your team.
Here’s what you need to do:
Cultivate expertise: To understand problems and potential solutions in a specific field, you need to be an expert. But how do you cultivate expertise? Performance expert Anders Ericsson has found that it's all about deliberate practice. You need to identify the components of a skill, offer coaching and encourage employees to work on their weak areas. That goes far beyond intermittent training.
Encourage exploration: A team of researchers analyzing 17.9 million scientific papers found that the most highly cited work is far more likely to come from a team of experts in one field working with a specialist in something very different. It’s that combination of expertise, exploration and collaboration that leads to breakthrough ideas.
Empower your people with technology: Technology makes expertise and exploration easier. It also frees up time for more experimentation.
Reward persistence: Too many of us think of creativity as an initial spark followed by a straightforward period of execution. At most organizations, any idea that doesn’t show immediate promise is typically killed off.
All too often, organizations quit. They see creation as an event rather than a process, don’t invest in expertise or exploration, and refuse to tolerate wrong turns and dead ends. Is it any wonder that so few are able to produce anything truly new and different?
Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.