Keeping the Creativity (and Maybe the Magic) Flowing in Business

Apparently, there is a new trend on the horizon in business, having fun while working – and actually being successful! And there are many high-level executives who are completely on board. While this idea of fun in the workplace may make some people cringe, as they think back to the dotcom boom days (and subsequent bust) a decade ago, an Entrepreneur article suggests: “Fun-based leadership has gone in a decidedly more grown-up and community-anchored direction.”

In his recent newsletter, Glenn Mangurian, a founder of FrontierWorks LLC, asks: “What ever happened to make believe?”

“Remember as a child your imaginary play? Whether it was playing with dolls or soldiers, we each had a world of make believe that channeled our creativity. Over time socialization, our parents and formal education started to stifle those impulses. We learned to be realistic, cautious, analytical and wary of other’s judgment. Our left brain started to dominate our right brain.”

He then goes on to say that on some level, as adults we understand that “creativity is essential to success,” but that for whatever reason, many of us lose it along the way.

The Entrepreneur article, “Managers Who Understand the Importance of Goofing Off,” which is part of the magazine’s “Biggest Trends in Business 2013” series, posits that more and more CEOs are embracing the idea that fun is actually becoming a fundamental part of businesses bottom lines. “The prevailing wisdom is that a spirit of playfulness builds teamwork by bringing employees together in a collaborative setting.”

While it’s great to hear that this is an up-and-coming trend, how can the rest of us incorporate fun and creativity to help improve our work and essentially our businesses?

Mangurian cites some interesting ideas on how to overcome this creativity block from the Harvard Business Review article: “Reclaim Your Creative Confidence – How to get over the fears that block your best ideas.”

The article, which was authored by two executives from the design firm, IDEO, claims that most adults become constrained by four fears that hold back their creativity:

  • Fear of the messy unknown
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of the first step
  • Fear of losing control

Sound familiar? In the article, they suggest that creativity is something that needs to be learning (or re-learned) and practiced regularly. And the first step is overcoming those adult fears.

In the Entrepreneur article, Playworks founder and CEO Jill Vialet, says: “Work is not the antithesis of play—by no means at all. The opposite of play is depression.” And, in his newsletter, Mangurian says: “Maybe if we let go of our limitations of what is possible we might see new possibilities offered by others.”

Maybe they’re on to something. How do you keep the creativity flowing and the magic alive in your work?

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