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R & D Creativity & Innovation Handbook by Edward Glassman Ph.D.
Edward Glassman : Enhance the Creative Climate Around You

Enhance the Creative Climate Around You

By Edward Glassman, PhD

A creative climate focuses attitudes and behaviors that lead to the freer use of everyone's ideas. This includes responses that help new ideas, the willingness to examine and explore different points of view, the deliberate searching for new connections between facts, beliefs, and ideas to create quality solutions.

You can foster such a positive climate by looking for the good in ideas before concentrating on what is bad. You can stimulate others to do likewise. You can eagerly listen to new ideas and find the good and useful in them. You can eliminate the times you and others take automatic pot shots at each other's ideas.

A quick automatic-NO impedes a creative climate for solving problems. You can help by encouraging positive climate factors. You can set the example, the tone, and the mood for everyone else. A positive creative climate is a rarity, rather than commonplace, because it takes courage to stay creative and to express new ideas. And it takes courage to help another person's idea that seems worthy of your quick negative criticism. It takes courage to defer judgment of ideas during problem solving.

You can become the prime mover toward a positive creative climate. You need to stay optimistic. You need to convince others by modeling the behaviors you want to encourage. You need to understand the great disadvantages of the quick automatic NO response, and you must help the what's-good-about-it approach until it becomes the habitual response of other people around you.

Assert that You Want Others to Help Your Idea

When a work group quickly shoots down ideas, many people get defensive and shoot down their own ideas first, if they actually muster up the courage to share them at all. Some ways they do it includes:

  • This may not work, but...
  • You'll probably laugh, but...
  • It might be a dead end, but...
  • I'm no genius, but...

Stop shooting down your own ideas with such apologetic phrases. Instead, assert that you want others to help you develop your new idea further. Take responsibility. Change the creative climate around you.

A HABIT THAT SPOILS CREATIVE THINKING: We don't object when people stifle our ideas. We allow other people to shoot down our ideas and spoil our creative thinking. We do the same to our own ideas. Stop doing this. Take responsibility for the creative atmosphere around you.

Take Responsibility for the Creative Climate

How responsible are you for the creative thinking of others at work? A lot? A little? Not at all? Actually 100%.

Why are you 100% responsible? Because you can say "NO" to new ideas so easily. Your automatic No devastates the creative thinking of others. Instead, create a creative climate for others. Pretend all ideas you hear come from your boss.

How responsible are you for your own creative thinking? A little? A lot? Actually 100%.

Why? Because you can assert to people with a large automatic No and quick negative criticism. Ask them to help you develop your idea, not kill it. Assert to create a creative climate around you.

Accept 100% responsibility for the creative climate at work. You can help others. You can assert to help yourself. You can change a negative climate to a positive one by your own actions!

To help creative thinking, squelch criticism, not new ideas. A new idea is like a brown, ugly seed. You do not know whether it will grow into a lovely flower or a common weed until you plant it and nurture it. A newly formed idea resembles this too, in that it is half-developed ... or half-baked; what you call it depends on whether it is your idea, or whether you like it.

People find new ideas uncertain. You do not know the direction the idea will take or whether it will get there. Many mistakes will occur. Surrounded by high risk, no one can predict the future and prove in advance any new idea will succeed. Because people find new ideas unpredictable and hard to develop, people find them easy to reject.

A HABIT THAT SPOILS CREATIVE THINKING: We discourage and squelch new ideas, especially bizarre ideas. Instead, use bizarre trigger-ideas as starters to spark useful ideas. •

© 2011 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »

6/8/11