A Room with a View (Creativity in the Workplace)

I’m writing this from our new Adelaide rooms, which have a beautiful view across East Terrace to Rymill Park. People are strolling through the park, families are picnicking, workers are industriously getting things ready for the Adelaide Fringe Festival, and despite the heat of an Adelaide summer, the grass is lush and the trees are waving gently in the breeze. A few months ago, I was inspired to begin this blog while looking out over Blackwattle Bay from our Sydney rooms.

A beautiful view makes you want to sit and stare and contemplate, and this leads to a state which psychologists call flow. Flow is when you are fully immersed in, and engaged with, what you are doing, and have no concern at all for time. In fact, time seems to cease to exist. You feel energised and alert. It’s this state of being that psychologists like Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and Martin Seligman believe is happiness. It’s also the state that is the most conducive to creativity, which brings me back to my view of the park.

To be at your most creative, you need to be in a state to think freely. A beautiful view helps you achieve this, as can listening to music, walking or jogging, the sound and/or sight of water, being in a forest, being together with a group of people, and many other situations that can trigger free thought. It’s a question of what works for you, and most people know what works best for them.

So why is creativity important in the workplace, and do we really want people staring out of windows thinking all day?

I believe that creativity is fundamental to the workplace. Firstly, because I think human beings are primarily creative (and if we weren’t we’d never have stood up, learnt to cook food or developed culture and industry), and secondly and fundamentally, because creativity allows you to make something from nothing.

All physical and intellectual achievement comes down to making something from nothing. In other words, having an idea and making it real. In general life, and particularly in the workplace, this translates into innovation, problem solving, and making more of the resources at hand.

Every organisation can benefit, I believe, from harnessing and fully employing creativity. Whether it’s to learn to make a company leaner and smarter, to stream-line systems and procedures, to learn to employ people who fit into the organisation and work in teams well, or to invent new products, creativity is at the heart of all successful operation and achievement.

Creativity doesn’t only take one person like me staring out a window though. In an article in the Harvard Business Review in 2008 about his highly innovative film production company, Pixar, Ed Catmull said of the creative process at Pixar, “…creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems”. It doesn’t take much to see that this process could be effectively generalised to every organisation, large and small alike.

Creativity is one of the most fundamental things about being human. Since the beginning of our species, creativity is what got us here. Creativity makes us visualise what we can become, individually and collectively. The greatest organisations, and the greatest endeavours and achievements require the greatest creativity.

In the end, all achievement in the workplace, and in life, comes down to two essential things: effective problem solving, and making something from nothing.

 

Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.

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2 Responses to “A Room with a View (Creativity in the Workplace)”

  1. [...] is because of a number of reasons: I’ve been thinking about happiness and the role it plays in creativity, I’ve joined an optimism-based LinkedIn Group this week, which has got me thinking from a [...]

  2. [...] know this recognition as being in the zone. Psychologists and artists know it as flow. Teachers, performers and public speakers feel it as being in unison with their audience. It’s [...]

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