A few months ago my supervisor asked everyone in our department to make a detailed list of all the projects and tasks we consistently work on and what they entail. I was sailing through my list until I bumped up against something I didn’t know how to describe: my creative process.
Creativity can be a part of any job, but I am especially fortunate to have a lot of creative freedom. From designing trainings to organizing events, there’s a lot of space to dream and vision. I love the creative process, and I especially love dreaming and visioning, but how do I explain it in a world where we are typically bound to concrete tasks and language? Ideas come when they come; they aren’t limited to work hours and they don’t care about deadlines. Sometimes ideas come when I’m walking, or sweeping the floor, or driving to work. Meditation is a significant part of my creative process, but can I add that to my list of work duties?
It’s an unfortunate truth of our culture that we define productivity by how busy we appear to be. If it looks like we’re doing nothing, then it’s assumed we aren’t “working.” Rigidity is the antithesis of creativity and destroys any possibility of innovation. How can we expand our notion of “work” to include this amorphous, and hard to define process?
In February, Forbes wrote an article titled, “13 Reasons Google Deserves Its ‘Best Company Culture’ Award.” The list includes true flexibility, a fun environment, trust, and the freedom to be creative, among others.
“Google has been one of the first companies to really understand the need for employees to have a flexible schedule and work on their terms to unleash their creativity and a greater level of productivity. They’ve let their employees explore how they’d like to work and given them the freedom within the environment to approach work in a way that suits them.” – Muhammed Othman, Calendar
It would seem that a large part of inviting creativity and innovation into the work space is intentionally creating an environment that although may not look like “work” all the time, actually is far more productive at the end of the day. They also put a lot of emphasis on relationships, highlighting collaboration. With more attention to process and connection than goals, we can not only achieve our desired results – or even surpass them – but we can enjoy ourselves along the way. We may not be able to specifically map out what the creative process looks like, but we can build the foundation for possibility and make space to see what shows up.