Giving up on Uniformity can Increase Creativity

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 12.10.30 PMGiving up on uniformity is really about acknowledging in tangible ways the fact that different people require different conditions in order to perform at their best. So rather than requiring everyone to follow the same rules within the workplace, you make allowances that enable all concerned to pursue their responsibilities in the way that best suits them.  Creative people have a tremendous capacity for teamwork, but they can also have a tremendous need to follow their own rhythms or work style.  It is very likely shortsighted to force creative talents to follow rules that inhibit their creativity without adding anything to your company’s goal of generating innovations. For examples, it may be important for everyone to show up to a weekly progress meeting, but is it really important for everyone to show up at 9 a.m. and stay until 5 p.m.?  They may be more productive working at different hours or not coming in at all on some days.  When you manage by exception you honor people’s individual requirements for freedom, and when you manage for inclusion you make sure that everyone feels a responsibility for the collective success (or failure) of the project.  When I was a publisher, my experience in working with authors was that each author was very different and required adaptation and careful attention to approach their creative talent in a unique way.  Over the many year I have worked in the fragrance industry,  I have observed the same thing with perfumers.  Creative talent is rarely separable from the individual’s personality, because it has a lot to do with imagination, sensitivity, and feelings. This is why seeking uniformity is rarely the way to go.  Management by exception will bring much more efficiency.

Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.

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