We live in a world dominated by technology and access to information. Knowledge has never been more accessible, at least to those with the right platforms and tools. In our personal lives and at work, information is everywhere, to the point it can overwhelm us and suffocate creativity. It has made information overload a significant challenge for individuals and employers to overcome. Finding a balance and creating the right environment to foster creativity is not only beneficial for the organisation. It also makes for happier, more engaged and more rounded individuals.
In Too Fast to Think, we explore the challenge of cultivating creativity in people in the face of irresistible volumes of information competing for their attention.
So much creativity occurs outside of the traditional workplace. It is often in the areas where we are most isolated from outside information distractions. The shower, the morning commute, on a plane, on the golf course or at the gym. It is often these and other points of partial and total isolation from digital noise that free us to embrace our imaginations. Organisations must build these concepts into working environments and practices to support creative thinking.
However, we must also understand that the dividing line between home and work life is blurring. There will be natural cross-pollination between the two, no matter how much we work to maintain boundaries between work and personal time. What is important is to ensure that one doesn’t completely overrun the other. Ensuring that staff don’t burn out, don’t develop stress-related ailments and other problems is good for everyone, every business and the wider economy.
Striking the right balance is, however, highly beneficial to both individual and employer. For example, the highly-regarded psychologist Sir Cary Cooper has looked at the work/life balance issue in depth. Through his work, Cooper has concluded that there is a clear correlation between more restrained and considerate employers and happier, more flexible employees that can support the business. That support not only comes through being able to respond on a more flexible schedule, but also by delivering more innovative and creative solutions to business challenges.
Finding the right balance, and being more creative where it counts depends a lot on the working structure the individual operates in. After all, the creative process doesn’t run to a strict timetable. It will never be a predictable, prescribed workflow. Creative impediments such as writer’s block and blank page syndrome are classic illustrations of this. Sometimes the ideas don’t flow when you want them to. They definitely won’t flow if someone is exhausted, stressed and disillusioned. Employers must embrace and welcome these variables as part of the creative process and build in room and time for creative thinking, not view it like a logistical project.
Too Fast to Think by Chris Lewis is published by Kogan Page. It is available from Amazon and all good book shops.