Poets, Potential, & Possibilities
“The universe is wider than our view of it.”
- Henry David Thoreau
My last message discussed how to create a culture of trust amongst the groups you belong to. Trust creates safety, which in turn increases the potential for creativity, which can come from every member of your circle if they are encouraged to explore it, feel safe to share it, and are recognized for it.
“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
- John Keating in Dead Poets Society
In Dead Poets Society, John Keating implores his young students to see the world from a different point of view, creating a culture in his literature class that inspired his students to achieve, lead, and explore. You can feel the impact as they salute his compassion and leadership in the final scene.
In the technology world, where creativity and innovation are king, Google encouraged their employees to spend 20% of their time on side projects. The initiative was copied, at the appropriate scale, by companies far and wide with amazing results; Gmail, Google Maps, Twitter, Slack, and Groupon all started as side projects by employees.
Leveraging a culture of trust to encourage creativity and innovation has tangible effects on your team. As Executive Coach Catherine Plano notes, encouraging a mindset of continuous learning, creative thinking and increased innovation will increase your chances of retaining quality, committed people and creating an engaging workplace. While the 20% rule may not fit in your operation, would a scaled down version of that process, coupled with some of the following principles, have the potential to unleash the creative power of your team?
1. Brainstorm problems with input from everywhere. One of my favorite stories is called “The Honeypot” and tells of how Pacific Power and Light found an innovative and unique way to solve a difficult and expensive problem by listening to everyone in the room.
2. Cross Train and Review. People who work in a silo rarely “stand upon the desk” like Robin Williams. Be intentional about cross training your teams and ask for their feedback and questions on other departments.
3. Support Education. If your people aspire to professional and personal development, find a way to support them financially or with time and flexibility.
4. Support Risk Taking. Alleviate the fear of trying something new by rewarding creative risk-taking. Offer to help guide your people through the risk-taking process and help them understand the importance of creativity in your business.
5. Lead. Innovation breeds innovation. People who are curious, have an open mind, find meaning, experiment often, and take risks will attract others who will do the same.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, and I would love to hear your ideas for creating an environment that builds trust, inspires creativity, and opens a world of new possibilities not only for your team and your operation, but for you as well.
Oh Captain, My Captain,
Michael Mueller, PGA Career Consultant
Proudly serving the Carolinas Section
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