How do we encourage creativity to bloom?

Both as a company and as individual employees, we must respond to a world in which technology is developing at an increasing pace, with an accelerating flow of information. Our products and services must constantly develop, change and improve. Ideally, we should be presenting innovative solutions that our customers had no idea they needed.

In parallel to these technological improvements, we as people find ourselves with greater scope for focusing on value-creating activities. As technology replaces routine and formulaic tasks, we as individuals must instead develop our abilities to think analytically and in the abstract.

How can we unleash the inherent creativity, empathy and analytical ability in people and organisations?

What obstacles stand in our way of our trusting in someone or something? How can we conquer anxiety, doubt and fear? Why is our trust so fragile that, in a relationship, it can be damaged by an isolated event?

Unchanged brains

According to a physician and leadership coach Dr Johanna Höglund in an article published on the website, research suggest that our brains have remained largely unchanged for 100,000 years:

“In prehistoric times, we were fully occupied in trying to survive – our primary needs were to:

  • avoid being eaten – i.e., not to be caught off guard by a dangerous animal or find ourselves in a hazardous situation that might threaten our life; and
  • not be excluded from and abandoned by our tribe.”

She goes on to explain that our brains are preprogrammed to search for danger and threats. The analytical area of the brain – the one we rely on to draw sensible conclusions – is deprived of oxygen when the brain is in threat mode. According to the SCARF model, there are five domains of human social experience: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. “These can be set to either reward or threat mode. If the brain is in reward mode, we become creative, empathic and analytical. If, on the other hand, we go into threat mode, we react on instinct through either flight, fight or paralysis.”

Achieving greater trust

Armed with this knowledge, translated into the relationships within our own organisation, we can achieve greater trust if we as individuals can understand SCARF as Johanna Höglund describes it here:

Status is all about our relative importance. How important and significant we consider ourselves to be in relation to others.

Certainty is about perceived ability to predict the future, to foresee future events.

Autonomy is about having a sense that we can control our situation and things going on around us.

Relatedness is a sense of security with other people, of feeling that those around us are our friends rather than our enemies.

Fairness is the perception that there has been a fair exchange of goods and services between people, both in terms of procedural fairness – i.e., that the process has been fair and transparent – and a fair outcome – i.e., the result of a process is perceived as fair.

Raised awareness

This implies that what we as individuals think, say and do may place ourselves and others in a threatening situation. By raising our awareness of what is going on in our own brains and the brains of other people, we can begin to make changes.

I believe that an individual’s inherent power can be unleashed by increasing trust in oneself, in colleagues and in leaders. So, how do we go about that? It cannot be achieved through trust as a well-thought-out strategy. Trust is a side-effect of other actions and activities.

In my opinion, courage lies at the core of increased trust. True, credible courage is to allow oneself to be vulnerable, to give trust without guarantees and to dare to take the first step. We cannot ask for or expect anyone’s trust without first demonstrating trust ourselves.

First and foremost, we are all human

My response to the question of how we can make creativity blossom is to position and develop our corporate culture accordingly. First and foremost, we are all human. Whether we are talking about relationships to customers, colleagues or leaders, we all have the same basic social needs (the five domains). When each and every one of us takes responsibility for creating trust in one another, we also gain the courage to be vulnerable.

We should strive for a corporate culture in which people are involved in a constant learning process in order to develop ourselves. In a culture of learning from one another and gladly sharing our knowledge by teaching others, everyone develops, teaches and learns.

Results are the sum of trust

Trust is a company’s most valuable asset. Our bottom line is actually the result of the total sum of trust that we succeed in creating together.

The company’s growth is created by the ability to make people bloom to their full potential.

Finally, as the American researcher and author Brené Brown has found in her studies, trusting people also have the courage to make themselves vulnerable. She points out that it takes true courage to allow oneself to be vulnerable. If you dare to be vulnerable – i.e., if you show trust without demands or guarantees – you will be able to experience trust, warmth and love from others. She also says “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy courage, empathy, and creativity”. I believe that to be true – how about you?