What factors enhance and impede individual creativity in the organization?
The most critical factors to enhance individual creativity in an organization that I think are as follows;
First and most importantly, ‘organization culture’ plays a critical role in making the corporate environment enhance individual creativity, which can take place easily when employees feel freedom to express themselves at work. We often notice that many employees feel afraid of giving their thoughts and ideas at work. They just keep quiet when they are asked to give any opinions. Many employees in Korean companies seem to be reluctant to give their own opinions in public. I think it is the corporate culture which affects people to talk freely or reluctantly. When they are uncomfortable to talk each other, it becomes difficult to challenge assumptions, give new ideas, challenge the current status quo and encourage individual creativity. The ‘open’ corporate culture is much needed for creativity and innovation for which people will bring ideas as freely as they can. We will need to give an environment for them to talk and hear about any ideas naturally. It doesn’t matter whether they are abnormal, stupid, annoying, eccentric, and so on.
In addition, when I had interviews with my clients as consultant, some say that they seem to have a big barrier to individual creativity which is attributed to the generation gap in their organization. As per the survey result that I took, some say that the generation gap takes place between the young crowd (20’s to 30’s) and the mid-aged group (40’s to 50’s) and the older generation (60’s to 70’s). Some company owners are very concerned about the outcome. And they say that they want to know what to do with the generation gap within the company. When interviewed, some young people say that senior employees often do not want to listen to new ideas or just ignore them. Meanwhile some senior employees argue that young employees often bring new ideas that appear to be too unrealistic to accept or realize. I think it is the matter of whether the company has an environment for people to listen to others and respect each other. When the corporate environment is well set for respect and cooperation, openness to individual creativity and its realization, I think, would follow smoothly.
Next, trainings are considered crucial to enhance individual creativity. It is highly required for companies to have regular corporate trainings for employees in place. When employees are given opportunities to learn how to develop individual creativity within an organization and how to communicate well among themselves through proper trainings, it would be much easier for them to generate new ideas and individual creativity. Trainings like ‘Design Thinking’ is much expected to help the company improve the ability of individual creativity. For instance, through the design thinking process, they can design and develop new products and services in more effective structured manners. So, well-set-training programs are required to enhance creativity, not to mention improvements in knowledge and skills relating to jobs. To do so, companies may need to put aside some sufficient training budgets when they prepare for the next-year budgeting. Some clients that I know, especially small to medium-sized companies, give me some pessimistic opinions about spending money on training arguing that trainings do not bring much tangible benefits or profits to the company. Some are very impatient about training benefits. I often try to persuade some of my clients from changing their views on the benefits of trainings. I say that the continued trainings work longer and more effectively.
Lastly, CEO’s leadership is considered critical for individual creativity enhancement within the company. When CEO is fully supportive of individual creativity and gives good recognition to those who contributed to the company innovation, it will become easier for employees to think about creativity and make it realized.
Therefore, the companies are very much required to take the above mentioned into good consideration to enhance individual creativity, which eventually leads to overall corporate innovation.
Author: AJPOP Consulitng CEO Jungwan Shin