Nurturing a workplace for creatives...

This article (or wait, is it a blog post...I'm going with article) kind of trails off into how to manage grown-ups, but the initial premise is something I agree with. If you hire creative people, you need to have a corporate culture that doesn't squeeze every bit of creativity out of them. Now, I consider myself a right-brainer (meaning right-brain-dominant). The article asserts that the creative versus analytical thing isn't about left versus right. I'm no neurologist, so I have no professional opinion. But perhaps a better way to think about it is that we both HAVE and USE both sides of the brain. So trying to pull some of the analytical processing over to the right brain and the creativity into the left brain? I don't know about that. The brain isn't a democracy. I don't need my carburetor to do what my air conditioner does. And I have no idea what a carburetor does, but I am pretty sure I don't need my air conditioner to do that either. Because I have both (well, in my car at least...or so I have been told) and they do what they need to do. At the same time, even.

So creative analytics (which can sometimes lead to financial bail-outs...just sayin), I believe, result from use of both sides of the brain (not a super-charged, artsy-fartsy left brain). So all you lefties out there don't have to worry that the rest of us think you aren't creative and vice versa to all my fellow right brain dominant peeps. And I have some analytical chops as well (though I will tell you that seeing trends in data and telling a story about it IS actually right brained, but I digress). Which is a good thing because...

who has a job that doesn't require both? Not having that would be boring, for sure. Having said that, there are parts of my job that I have to really try harder at. At which I really have to try harder. You know. And nobody is going to give you an MRI and craft the perfect job. This past year, there was a part of my job that I found a lot more challenging and sometimes challenging is a good thing and sometimes challenging is not as awesome as a good thing but you have to get through it. There's a reason why they call it a j-o-b. And my approach is to figure out how to balance out that part with the creative; insert some creativity into that work, sprinkle some of the art in with the science. And because I did that, I am now an even bigger,  more annoying know-it-all than I was before. So there's the payoff. Seriously, I learned things I never would have known and the related skills/knowledge now actually frees up more time for the creative stuff. So now I get to focus more time on the kind of work that feeds my spirit. I kind of want to punch myself in the face for using a term like that but it is what it is. And I kind of want to punch my face for saying that too.

I'm not sure why this is, but having the creative stuff play a bigger part in my job right now really opens the flood gates for blogging as well. Like that part of my brain gets fired up. So yay for that.

OK, also from the article, I don't agree that a manager with a busy team, who is not busy him/herself isa good manager. Sometimes it means they are dropping the ball, passing the buck. Face-punch, face-punch. I'm a little more comfortable with the style where, as long as everyone is working hard on the right things, we are all in it together. Manager included. I'm not currently managing people though, so everyone is on their own. Oh, I kid.

Anyway, more importantly, I don't necessarily think that someone would need to write down Todd's rules for managing creatives or fostering a productive work environment; it really depends on so many things. The point (well definitely mine, at least) is that companies need to think about a few things:

  • assess the role of creativity in the work that needs to be done (again, not which jobs are creative and which aren't, but where creativity fits into each job)
  • figure out how to establish a culture that values creativity; how to actively value it, not just pay lip-service to the idea. This is the hard part, kids.
  • understand how to hire people that can show results in all areas of the job that needs to be done (or capacity for growth in some of them). There are plenty of good reasons for it, but the political posturing that results from lack of clarity around the deliverables for creative work as well as the difficulty in measuring it can lead to a lot of things that can really drain the morale of a team, especially creative individuals. OK, now go back up to the first bullet point and do this again.

It's hard to read that article and not think about your own mental capacity, right? I started to question for a second if I am right brained after all (OK, not too seriously, as I don't necessarily assign authority to others easily). And it's not about which is better but about the fact that I felt I had a good handle on who I am and what I am good at and thinking otherwise felt a little threatening (oh, my poor ego...gotta loosen the grip of attachment on my concept of who I am...lighten up Heather!). The whole personalized office thing threw me off. I used to personalize mine, but now I can't be bothered to unpack. Hey, I'm going through a minimalist phase and I work all over the place, not just in the office. And so another thing I want to point out, you know because I have to represent, is that "creative" looks different for different people. I always thought about what "creative" job I should have. But my stuff takes place in the inside of my brain, not on a canvas. And I think that this is something that can be confusing for people too. It's hard to look at a piece of work and point to the creative part if you have a preconception about what creative looks like. People sometimes put it in too small of a box. Creative is artsy and everything else is analytical. Um, no.

Anyway, my ego is recovered. Some good points in the article/blog post thing. Lotsa stuff to think about relative to creating the kind of work environment that results in abundant creativity.