Tag Archives: Pulling Back the Curtain

Creative Environment

I’m exploring how creativity works within a creative organization (see Pulling Back the Curtain for more info).

In creativity studies, we can investigate how creativity manifests through looking at “the 4 P’s:” the Creative Person, the Creative Product, the Creative Process, and the Creative Press, which refers to the environment.

Earlier posts have described moments of the creative process in action; others have explored where the creative person and the creative process intersect, though looking at the FourSight Breakthrough Thinking Profile. Now we’re digging into what the environment for creativity is like at this organization.

While you might assume that creative companies (those that generate creative products of some sort) would have an advantage over “non-creative” companies, this is not necessarily the case. Ever known a production company where everyone is continually stressed out on short deadlines? How about PR/advertising agencies where people are afraid to share ideas out of lack of trust? Or arts organizations that are chronically short of funding? All of these things—idea time, trust, resources, and many more—contribute to the creative environment.

With Pulling Back the Curtain, we’re lucky to be able to test-drive a survey of creative environment which is currently under development. I’ll keep the name secret for now, but will tell you that this survey measures sixteen different dimensions of the environment that impact the perceptions employees have of “interactions, events, policies and procedures” within the organization. The survey takes an “appreciative inquiry” approach: what has worked well in the past, and how might you have more of that in the future?

We sent the surveys last week. By next week the study authors hope to be able to start gathering the data, and piecing together a picture of how this creative company stacks up in terms of creating an environment that supports and invites creativity.

Does the daily arrival of baked goods contribute to an “abundance mentality?” How about the personalized production badges—are they supportive of a “sense of belonging?” What will the “just set up your computer anywhere” office design say about how organized the environment is? We can’t wait to find out!

Pulling Back the Curtain

What does creativity look like inside a creative organization?

How might it be possible to get a snapshot of the internal creative workings of a company that generates creative products (artistic productions, biotech breakthroughs, education/training programs, advertising campaigns, etc.), to see both how they do it, and how well they’re doing? Could we lift up the lid and take a peek at the inner workings? Examine internalized strengths and hidden blind spots? Take a stab at a recipe for creativity in creative companies?

To answer these questions, I’m embarking on a consultative exploration of a creative organization, a company that creates learning environments and opportunities for a variety of applications, from team-building, to exhibit design, to educational materials, to branding, and more.

I’ll be taking a look at this organization (for which, full disclosure, I have worked as content designer and trainer/facilitator) from the perspectives of their internal creative process, their creative climate, the creative preferences of the core team, and the development of a creative product. Throughout, I’ll be bringing in elements of Creative Problem Solving as a sort of process guide and framework for skill development. The specific project I’ll be observing is the concepting phase of an exhibit design for a small museum.

I’ll be posting regularly here on the process of observing a process… and the creativity that manifests in the creation of creative products. Something of a hall of mirrors? I’m seeing it as peek behind the curtain. Names will be changed to protect the innocent. I expect later in the project I’ll be able to give you some more information as to what, where, and when, for those who are curious. The “how” will be on full display throughout.

What do I expect to find out in all this? Well, the first major insight will come at the end of this month, when I present the findings to the team on their FourSight profiles. FourSight measures preferences for different phases of the creative process: clarifying the situation, coming up with ideas, developing them, and implementing them.

Is a company whose stock in trade depends on coming up with strong ideas full of people who love to ideate? Does a company which also develops and implements great ideas attract people who love to do that, too? Where are the strengths, and where are the blind spots? We’ll know that next week.

I’ll also be posting episodic snapshots of the organization’s creative process in action. Look for these under the category Pulling Back the Curtain/Diary of a Process. Also see the program page Pulling Back the Curtain for a quick program overview.

If you work for a creative organization (and even if you don’t) I hope you’ll find it to be an interesting journey. Please stay tuned…