Pressure doesn’t breed creativity.
Creativity has become a commodity that businesses trade in. Sometimes, the demand for creativity grows faster than the supply. When the balance shifts, the demand places creatives in a demanding situation.
I will say it again. Pressure doesn’t breed creativity. Pressure breeds desperation. Those are two very different mindsets.
Now, I am not saying deadlines aren’t important. I am also not saying that creatives don’t need boundaries. Actually, boundaries are great for me personally. They give me some defined space within which to think creatively. Deadlines help me devote appropriate time to being creative. All of these are great, but what happens when the pressure mounts and creatives get desperate? The product isn’t creativity, it is a desperate version of decent work. Many times, creatives still produce good content under pressure, but let’s just not pretend it is all that creative.
Want to know if your people are being creative? It’s easy. Just look around your office. If your people aren’t smiling, they probably aren’t being creative. The opposite holds true as well. If your people are smiling, they are probably in a good place to be creative. Creativity thrives in an environment where learning, thinking, time, and enjoyment meet.
Creativity is a result of understanding. If you don’t really understand a concept, it can be difficult to seek new ideas. The creative process begins in education about the concept or product. The more you know about the product, the better you can engage your mind creatively.
Focus, oddly enough, is a part of being creative. Turning on the creative part of your mind and aiming it at your product gives you the opportunity to come up with new ideas related to that concept. Sometimes we think creativity is like lightning, striking random people randomly. That’s usually not that true. Creativity is the innovative application of an expanse of knowledge toward a concept.
It’s not the focus that brings about creativity, though. Usually, we turn our minds to the concept, apply our knowledge to the product, and come up with nothing. That’s not a problem. What we need is time and space to let our brains create new pathways of thinking. That is why you get ideas while driving, playing, or in the shower. Mundane, non-focused spaces are the best for sparking creative movement in our minds. You learned, you focused, you rested, and you created. That is why pressure is so dangerous to the creative process. When you don’t give your brain the time and space to make new connections, you don’t get a truly creative product.
Now, here is the bonus. Why are the smiles in the office important? Because they bring a positivity to the process. A positive mindset will bring positive creativity. Is it always true? No. Is it mostly true? Yes. Think about the opposite. An office where enjoyment is stifled and pressure is a necessary part of the process is a brutal environment. You will likely end up with desperate, negatively influenced products. They may be pretty good, but they likely won’t be truly creative.
What innovative ways are you helping your people enter an office where learning, thinking, time and enjoyment are the norm?