Creative Practice at Work

Posted by Mica Scalin, Mar 03, 2016 0 comments

There’s a lot of talk these days about bringing creativity to the workplace, but what exactly does that look like?

My brother and I started a consultancy dedicated to making the creative practices of artists accessible to anyone, anywhere. This means that we spend an unusual amount of time (for artists, that is) with executives in industries like aeronautics, energy and pharmaceuticals. In fact, when we ask any room of executives–with specialties in operations, compliance and engineering–if creativity is essential to the success of their company, the overwhelming majority, and I mean 99%, of the group will raise their hands. I wrote more about this on ArtsBlog last month.

They have been told to think big and innovate, get outside of boxes and comfort zones, but no one has given instructions for how to do this. We say, “It’s easy, all you need to do is commit to practicing a little every day!” For many this just feels like one responsibility on the never ending to-do list. However, we know that even a short experience with creative practice can have powerful effects.

@180lunches | InstagramWe designed a month-long challenge called CreativeSprint to demonstrate that, through simple daily actions, anyone can use art to make meaningful changes in their lives and the world each day for 30-days we provide a simple prompt via email and ask people to share the results online with a hashtag. Any individual can sign up on our site, CreativeSprint.co, but we also specifically invited a number of workplaces to discover how creativity has exponential benefits when practiced as a group. Teachers, analysts and restaurant staff got in on the action.

“Our goal at Short Pump Middle School is to encourage our students and teachers to tap into their natural creativity in and out of school.” Assistant Principal Jennifer Maddux, took on the challenge for herself to motivate others. “From an educator’s perspective, I enjoyed finding ways to apply each day’s topic to the content being taught in school. Some of the teachers even got their students in on the act using the daily emails as warm-ups for their lessons. The leadership team also enjoyed seeing what our teachers created and how they applied it to their instruction.”

Sarah Choi, co-owner of Shoryuken Ramen also found CreativeSprint was a great way to connect with her employees, many of whom are college-age. “Restaurant work can be grueling but requires you to remain happy and hospitable with guests at all times. Bringing CreativeSprint to work encouraged them to show off their talents, have conversations with each other and most of all, a little fun. It provided an opportunity to take a break, consciously engage with people I work with and have fun together. And doing that actually made the rest of the job easier.”

Kristine Johnson, Lead Regulatory Analyst at Columbia Gas of Virginia, brought the idea to her office and saw multiple benefits. “My favorite part was seeing everyone's creations and learning new things about each other. I had no idea we had so many hidden talents in the office!” Revealing and appreciating each other’s unique abilities created a bond in the office, “There is a camaraderie among the participants, even after the challenge finished.”

Ian Jones, a communication specialist, also at Columbia Gas of Virginia, gives more perspective, “We had upper level management participate, field employees, office staff, everyone came together and shared in the experience which made it really meaningful for our office. There were a few employees who I don't talk to every day normally who I would check in with to talk about what ideas they had and what they were planning. It became a topic of discussion in the office that brought a lot of people together to have a little bit of fun once a day. I think it really had a great impact on the people who participated.”

Creative practice is transforming workspaces and impacting businesses by motivating millennials, exposing hidden talents, connecting people in new ways, and improving employee engagement. Like how that sounds? Our next CreativeSprint kicks off on April 1! Sign up at CreativeSprint.co and experience it for yourself.

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