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Optimistic Creativity

Having upbeat creative thinkers and thought leaders in your business yields better results, because if they feel good about coming up with ideas in the first place, they'll be more inclined to push for great ones. So it's important to find ways to help your people get into an optimistic state of mind.

A few years back a couple of psychologists (R. S. Friedman and J. Forster) conducted an experiment. They gave individuals in two groups a drawing of a maze with a cartoon mouse in the centre. The goal was to find the escape route for the mouse in the shortest possible time. Simple enough.

The maze was exactly the same for both groups of people - with one variation. For one group there was a picture of a nice piece of cheese on the outside and for the other group there was a picture of a swooping owl with its talons out.

Individuals in both groups took the test and both groups performed the task in about the same time (less than two minutes).

Now here’s the interesting bit. Each participant in each group was then given a creativity test. Individuals with the cheese scored higher than individuals with the owl. Why? According to the experimenters, having cheese on the outside of the maze rewarded the mouse, but having an owl potentially harmed, or killed, the mouse. (Owls eat mice!).

The psychologists concluded that the difference was in the mindset created by the maze outcomes. One group of individuals was happy to be rewarding the mouse but the other felt bad for sending it to its cartoon death.

Now I am in no way a psychologist, nor do I pretend to understand the nuances and true cause and effects of all this, but what I do know is that it's vital to create the right environment for the creativity of your people will flourish. An environment where people feel comfortable and positive about being creative, where they are inspired and uplifted to generate great ideas. Not an environment that discourages or reprimands creativity.

A place where being creative is a joy and a positive experience, not something frowned upon. You need to create a nurturing, positive and rewarding environment for creativity to take place. You need to not just give them permission to do so but celebrate and encourage them to be more creative.
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