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The organization I have selected for the organizational creativity assessment is my previous employer, a private executive medical facility in Canada. This organization has been ranked as one of the 50 most well-managed companies in Canada for 10 consecutive years. It has 400 + employees with various specialties and my role was in middle management as the manager of 3 nursing teams. The company was and still is constantly growing and consistently ahead of the curve with technology and advanced practices as it relates to healthcare. I do believe one of the main contributors to the companies’ success is related to the open creative working environment. As Amabile 1998 stated, “creativity can benefit every function of an organization” (p.15), and this organization understood this thought process.
“Creative thinking, …. refers to how people approach problems and solutions – their capacity to put existing ideas together in new combinations” (Amabile 1998, p. 16). It is imperative for an organization and its employees to understand the importance of creative thinking and how to create and contribute to fostering this creative climate. This organization was fortunate to have open-minded and empowering support from every level of management including the CEO. Because of this, employees were driven to exceed their best and we’re proud to be a part of the organization. Decisions and discussions were often made at the senior executive level, team level, and with committees – directly involving front-line employees. Supervisory encouragement is needed to create a creative climate for employees. They should serve as role models and aid in communication within teams (Amabile 1998). The support needed for a creative climate really starts with the support of the organization as a whole. Amabile 1998 said it well, creativity is truly enhanced when the entire organization supports it” (p. 20).
Open communication, cohesive team environment, the involvement of employees in the decision-making process, executive level support, diversity, and encouraged excitement are all characteristics which contributed to a creative environment. The office space was an open concept, open door layout. There were many comfortable seating areas which encouraged relaxed conversation and discussions where the employees could be comfortable. Also, the location of the healthcare facility was in the heart of the thriving city. Employees were proud to be a part of this organization.
Diversity, as we know, can be positive and negative. As Kim, Kim & Wilde 2008 stated, “diversity in a team does not always contribute positively to team processes” (p. 49). As team diversity brings about more ideas, different opinions, and allows for brainstorming. Where individually one is only subject to their own points of view. There is no chance of conflict and they can come up with creative ideas on their own time.
In my experience, the characteristics described above have a positive impact and influence on both individual creativity climate and team creativity climate. “The wide use of teams for creative tasks is based on the notion that they bring a wider pool of perspectives and knowledge to the table” (Hoever, van Knippenberg, van Ginkel, & Barkema 2012, p. 983). The majority of the time at this organization we worked in teams to problem solve, create new ideas, and implement new processes. As a team, members need to “recognize the unique knowledge and perspective that other members bring to the table” (Amabile 1998, p. 19).
Completing this creativity assessment has allowed me to acquire the knowledge and understanding needed to effectively assess creativity with my previous employer. This appraisal has highlighted the following characteristics which the organization and employees demonstrated; maturity with employees, an overall fun environment to be in, employees feel comfortable when suggesting new ideas, and no risk of judgment. Staff is empowered to generate ideas; however, they need to consider other deadlines and determine how best to work these new ideas in with daily tasks. Overall, the staff is quite happy and comfortable in the work environment, they enjoy their colleagues and being in this atmosphere.
“Climate plays the part of an intervening variable which affects the results of the operations of the organization” (Ekvall 1996, p. 106). As I have mentioned completing this evaluation has certainly put things into perspective for me with regards to creativity in the work environment. I do feel the suggestions provided by the assessment are supported by my experience and observations at the organization. I can point to various instances where this would have been applicable. The areas which were ranked the highest are Idea Support, Trust and Openness, and Playfulness and Humor. The dimensions of creativity at the organization which ranked the lowest are Risk-Taking and Idea Time. In my experience we did not just implement all ideas, the suggestions went through a process and chain of command. However, often times the ideas were supported as we consistently wanted to be ahead of the curve in healthcare. The areas which ranked highest on this assessment are a direct reflection of our core mission statement at the organization. This demonstrates the encouragement and empowerment the employees and my colleagues had for using creativity to influence innovation.
Amabile, T. M. (1998). How to kill creativity. Harvard Business Review, 76(5), 15-24. Retrieved from https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/pl/66107934/66107968/2ae1409c2bbf5991bf747e30414b9522
Ekvall, G. (1996). Organizational climate for creativity and innovation. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 5(1) 105-123.
Hoever, I., van Knippenberg, D., van Ginkel, W., & Barkema, H. (2012). Fostering team creativity: Perspective tasking as key to unlocking diversity’s potential. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(5), 982-996.
Kim, Y. S., Kim, M. S., & Wilde, D. (2008). Toward the management of design creativity: Personal creativity modes, design activity, and team interaction. Design Management Journal, 3(2), 45-52.
Class and Professor Towns,
I have chosen my current employer as the organization to assess it’s creativity culture. I am a staff x-ray/ M. R. I. Tech at a small company. I work with orthopedic doctors, medical assistants, and an office manager. The work place lacks leadership. The doctors does not get involve with daily decisions. They pretty much see the patients and go home. Staff members assist the doctors with the patient visits, answer phone while setting up appointments. I perform x-ray and M. R. I. exams. Who is the leader? Who resolve conflicts? Who makes positive changes to better the workplace?
The office manager is the person who supposedly should take care of the office problems. However, I find myself debating which person should I address with work related problems. Should I go to the office manager or should I go to the administrator? There are no protocols or system in place for such employee concerns. Upper management have not established procedure for employees to resolve issues. There is a lack of encouragement regarding staff to speak up about expressing ideas. There is lack of leadership. There is lack of idea implementation. There is a lack of trust. There is a lack of liveliness. There is a lack of creative culture which is needed to encourage innovative ideas (Ekvall, 1996).
None of the staff members try to be innovative. Usually, if someone has an idea, the idea stops dead in its tracks and goes nowhere. Everyone usually concludes by criticizing the office manager by implying that she does not do her job as an office manager.
The administrator is not on-site and therefore leaves most office activities for the office to resolve its own issues. The staff has really nobody to turn to in order to solve issues. The atmosphere at my work place coincides with the assessment test Dimensions of a creative working climate (Laureate Education, 2012). There are little signs of a team creativity climate.
The assessment test reveals that the overall working environment lacks energy towards creativity. The staff lacks the freedom to think outside the box. There is little risk taking as far as innovative thinking. The staff works strictly by company rules. There are also some hostility and gossip within the staff. There is playfulness and humor but it does not translate to positive or creative energy. There can be idea time. However, the staff chose to use that time to only finish up work instead.
Ideas such as designating the the room closest to x-ray as a cast room, or booking M. R. I. appointments every 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes have fallen on deaf ears. The staff agrees that the patients who are receiving casts should not have to travel back and forth from all the way down the hall to go x-rays. They might need repeated x-rays in some cases. however, the ideas is not manifested. The response is “thats how it has always been”. Same goes for the M. R. I. appointments. Everybody agrees that M. R. I. take longer than 30 minutes in most cases. We all agree that patients would be less disappointed when their exam starts close to schedule. However, the idea goes nowhere.
There are no risk taking (Ekvall, 1996). The idea is never tried out. At the very least, a conversation or using the divergent thinking concept might have bring some type of resolution from different ideas. Maybe I would not get the cast room to be next to the x-ray room. having the room closer would be progress. It would be a result of convergent thinking that would narrow down to the best possible idea. It would be a process.
Even when there is no resolution, at the very least, a culture would be established. The practice of creativity would become the norm. Team creativity which is underrated but well known would become established throughout my office (Hoever, 2012). It would become a routine. It would become part of our lives. Most importantly, team creativity would benefit all stakeholders (Kim, 2008).
Ekvall, G. (1996). Organizational climate for creativity and innovation. European Journal of Work And Psychology. 5(1) 105-123.
Hoever, I., Van Kippenberg, D. Van Ginkel, W. & Barkema, H. (2012). Foster team creativity: Perspective taking as key to unlocking diversity’s potential. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(5). 982-986.
Laureate Education (Producer)(2012d) Dimensions of a Working Creative Climate.
The organization I have chosen to reflect on is my current employment location which is a private boutique hospital with 120 employees. The hospital has recently acquired new ownership and management. Given the recent drastic changes at the hospital, spending time being creative is not at the forefront of the executive committee’s minds. The organization is short staffed and with recent positions made redundant, employees are often guarded and prefer not to provide suggestions for fear of the possible outcome. Currently, all suggestions, ideas and process changes go through our Hospital Administrator. What is very encouraging are the vast number of employees with varying backgrounds which brings diversity to the team. This multicultural environment is a breath of fresh air to the company. Unfortunately, in my opinion, I see the executive team as a barrier to the creative process as there is no encouragement or time set aside to think about creativity (Amabile 1998, p. 19).
Currently, there are individual managers who are quite supportive and encourage their teams to brainstorm solutions to challenges. They also encourage the employees to be a part of the change process, starting with an understanding of the problem, and observing the situations. When employees are given the freedom to control their own behavior they are empowered to make decisions. Overall as an organization, I feel the company could do better in terms of supporting the creativity of employees and teams. As an organization when employees do present excellent creative ideas which will generate positive outcomes for the organization, the employee is typically recognized either in a town hall meeting, in our newsletter or in a team meeting. When this happens regularly it does motivate employees to be creative.
When people work in a supportive environment, they strive to produce results. I think it is important to understand all the dimensions of a creative climate that Ekvall 1996 makes note of, challenge, freedom, idea time, idea support, trust, playfulness, debates, low conflict, risk-taking, and dynamism. The initiative that could be implemented that would strengthen the climate for creativity among participants in the initiative is a ‘People Team Committee’. This is a committee made up of staff and a couple of managers who would be tasked to build morale and employee engagement. The participants on the committee would work together to come up with creative ideas which would engage staff, for example, a team building event every month. This would be a safe zone where employees can share their ideas and feel judgment free. The managers of the group would be responsible to ensure the employee’s suggestions are aligned with the company goals and values.
This initiative will allow others to work together from various departments encouraging teamwork. Staff will feel encouraged to provide new ideas and suggestions and be comfortable in doing so while brainstorming with each other. The team could work on one challenge at a time and feel the empowerment when they are successful in finding innovated ideas. They can also have a fun time coming up with creative ideas. The hope would be that other employees would want to join the committee to be a part of the excitement, there would be a trickle effect. Employees often “will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself – and not by external pressures” (Amabile 1998 p. 17). The team would be advised to follow the five-step process IDEO uses, understand, observe, evaluate and refine, and implement (Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. 2011). Ultimately I would love to see “a combination of effective leadership behaviors, creative work environment practices and a variety of processes that work synergistically together produce a culture that exemplifies creativity” (Puccio, Mance & Murdock 2011, p. 316).
Amabile, T. M. (1998). How to kill creativity. Harvard Business Review, 76(5), 15-24. Retrieved from https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/pl/66107934/66107968/2ae1409c2bbf5991bf747e30414b9522
Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011). Creative climate: Work environment allows IDEO to deliver promise of innovation. In Puccio, Mance & Murdock, Creative leadership: Skills that drive change (pp. 314-320). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
IDEO began in 1991, founded by David Kelly in observation of his leadership: I found it to be a free willed style that still drove for focus and results from his Employees. “Combination of effective leadership behaviors, creative work environment practices and a variety of processes that work synergistically together produce a culture that exemplifies creativity (Puccio, et all 2011, pg. 3).
In my experience I was yet to work with this leadership style but from an employee who has had managers to me it would feel as though the leader was out to make friends, instead of being friendly which is a direct contrast that all leaders should impose. Puccio states, Kelley‘s actions influenced the way new and up-coming leaders of IDEO would behave (2011, pg 2). Not that this leadership style is bad for the company however a stern approach for future leaders may need to be adapted to fight in the ever-changing business climate.
As for the work environment for the IDEO, it almost seems of a cluster of chaos. “IDEO’s offices look and feel like a cross between a college dorm, a daycare playroom and an art studio” (Puccio et. all, 2011, pg 3). I found this to be interesting because didn’t we just learn that design thinking is known be chaotic and feel confusing to most leaders.
This type of thinking and brainstorming to me is a bit irrational when I come a very black and white professional environment. It is either follow the process or do not follow the process and be questioned or untrusted with the decisions you make. If a new idea is going to be proposed a spurt of the idea generation is not allowed unless, proper research is completed and all managers are in agreeance with the change. For IDEO it almost feels as if an idea generation is what gets you promoted and what advances for the future of the company. “Their leadership practices reflect an environment where workers are energized, ideas flow, confidence is high and imagination is plentiful” (Puccio et. all, 2011, pg. 5).
IDEO’s implementation of their 5-step process is ingenious, this process is structured on new product development process that harnesses the collective imagination of projects teams ((Puccio et. all, 2011, pg. 5). This process reminds me a lot of our new Simplification process that has been implemented company-wide to streamline our work load, to create more time for the employee to have more profound results.
In observation of this initiative, a corporate wide restructuring of office space and seating arrangements was developed to assist in the need to troubleshoot issue quickly and effectively, ie brainstorming. This reminds me of the restrictive workspace in the layout of IDEO. “Productive brainstorming sessions fire up teams with confidence, optimism and energy, making it one of the engines behind IDEO’s culture (Puccio, et all, 2011, pg. 7). I firmly believe this statement because, I cannot tell you the countless moments in my career where I have needed to troubleshoot an issue and could not find the members to proactively address a solution. Now with this in play, it is very simple to look on the map and find the team that is responsible for assisting with an issue. It is a complete time saver.
Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011) Creative climate: Work environment allows IDEO to deliver promise of innovation. In Puccio, Mance & Murdock, Creative leadership: Skills that drive change (pp. 314–320). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.