What comes to your mind when you are told to think about the most creative individuals in this world. Is it Elon Musk/Steve Jobs/Jeff Bezos? The media around us has put these personalities in so much limelight that we have now started thinking that these individuals have come from Mars with extra thinking capabilities.
However, is it really true? Was Elon Musk able to launch his first rocket with SpaceX or was it because of his team and the culture of SpaceX? Can we really attribute all the success of Amazon to Jeff Bezos or is it because of the Organization’s culture which was working in the backend as an invisible hand?
It is not individuals but teams that come together and innovate at big organizations. It is the culture that drives innovation and creativity. For Example, Google and 3M allow their employees to use 20% of their time on pet projects. Even the workspace at companies like Google and Facebook fosters creativity which allows their employees to wear what they like, play indoor games in the breaks, open gyms to exercise, areas to brainstorm, etc.
These organizations succeeded in creating routines that help individuals to think creatively. Routines to an organization are like habits to an individual. These are mostly subconscious, largely time-saving, and highly sticky. It is often said that it is easier to learn a new habit than to break an existing one. Over time, these routines become robust. Culture, then, is not so much a manifestation of people as much as that of routines.
Now, the question is if organizations can be creative then why don’t we have enough organization in India, which are doing creative stuff. The answer lies in the education system of our country. From the very beginning in our school, we are taught that it is imperative for students to score well in the examination to make a good career. The marks are awarded on the basis of how well a student writes in the examination and that should be in line with what has been taught in the class. Even for the exams like moral science schools are desperate to take examinations.
This culture needs to be changed because when it comes to theory Indians are very good at it but at the time of application of that theory, we struggle a lot. To understand it better think of a situation when you took your car/bike outside and because of some mechanical issue, your vehicle stopped working, in such a situation, 90% of the Indians will look for a mechanic or a garage to fix the vehicle because we have never been to taught to fix it ourselves. However, if the same situation happens in a country like the USA, people there will solve it on their own. This is why there is an urgent need to include such vocational courses in our secondary education system.
There is a need for a drastic change in our education system and some of the individuals have already understood it. Mr. Anil Pradhan, who is the Founder and CEO of NaPSAT, a school in Odisha that gives weightage to innovation much more than marks and is the only school in India that was selected for NASA’s Mars Rover Challenge. The NEP also emphasizes the importance of vocational training. However, this is just a start and parents will have to understand that children should not be judged on any parameter included marks they score in exams rather they should be motivated to try multiple and new things.
After education comes to the culture at the workplace and we have already discussed the importance of an inclusive and diverse work culture that fosters innovation and creativity.
Now, coming to the most important question of how to become more creative:
There are various ways to increase creativity which we can refer from the book Design Your Thinking by Dr. Pavan Soni:
Take as many serious hobbies as possible : The one who are able to pack life with multiple activities, done with a serious amount of intent, is by design more creative than one with a unidimensional life. Hobbies are great ways to expose oneself to different people, situations and challenges, and offer self-confidence, new perspectives, and empathy;
Try to ignore stuff: Do not get carried away by every other new thing heard about and focus on fewer things at a time which can have a significant impact on the productivity;
Give listening a chance: It is advisable to listen five times as much as you speak. It is very important to understand the perspectives of others and learn from them. Park your judgments to as much extent and for as long as possible. Our judgments, biases, and patterns of thinking are essential to our survival and offer cognitive efficiencies. They are, however, highly detrimental in both changing our understanding about something or somebody and generating ingenious solutions for difficult problems.
Also, keep in mind the three components of creativity: Expertise ( Technical, Procedural, and intellectual knowledge), Creative thinking skills ( Flexibility in the approach), and Motivation ( Intrinsic is much more effective than extrinsic). Therefore, look for/ build these skills if you want to boost your creativity or look for such traits in an individual if you want to hire creative people.
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