Harnessing and hiring creativity
October 12, 2011
Where does creativity come from? How does one harness it? Why does it seem to just fall out of the sky at any moment? And how can one search for creativity in their ranks or among job candidates?
The answers to these questions are manifold. Every business is different, and every professional works, produces and is motivated according to certain conditions. The trick is to recognize one's own creative environment, to find his or her muse, and insert themselves in that situation where possible.
Jason Fried, cofounder and president of software firm 37signals, argues that motivation, productivity and efficiency are not as easily harnessed as one may assume - in fact, these traits are fickle and even more elusive if they are forced.
"When I meet with ambitious young entrepreneurs, I am invariably asked, 'How can I get more done in fewer hours? What can I do to jump-start my creativity? How can I keep my edge?'" Fried writes in Inc. magazine. "Here are the three answers I can offer: 1. You can't. 2. Stop trying so hard - if it feels like work, something's wrong. 3. Do less stuff."
Fried compares the volatility of creativity to the weather. When there's bad weather, what do you do? You stay inside and take care of "busy work, the boring stuff, the small things that need to get done."
But all these trends are personal. How can one build creativity within their organization? How can one vet creative minds to add to their payrolls?
First of all, this depends on the business at hand. Small businesses face the added challenge of making sure each new hire is the right one. The cost of hiring the wrong person is much worse for a company that can't afford such high turnover rates.
"As an employer, and owning a business and running it, I would say failure is not an option," Kitura George, chief operations officer at marketing firm Rusty George Creative, told NPR. "You've just got to figure it out. It may not be the same groove you were working in four years ago, but figuring out how that works for you now."
Nail down your interview and application process so that you attract only the top minds for your position. Leverage creative tests and questionnaires to see how your candidate reacts under pressure and how their raw ingenuity comes out.