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Creativity and Bureaucracy

Supporting Worker Wellbeing Through Creativity in the Workplace

Creativity lies within each of us, expressed through our personal styles, talents, and perspectives. At work, when we use all the tools that we need, including our creativity, our work supports our wellbeing and we are at our best. But what happens when our individual creativity must function within groups of people, corporations and bureaucracies? Creativity is personal and intimate. Bureaucracy is big and often requires structure and conformity. Herein lies the challenge.

At its core, creativity exhibits key dynamics regardless of the type of work. First, creativity requires an informal and personal space. It also requires a basic yet minimized structure, as well as porous or sometimes nonexistent boundaries. It requires an understanding of the differences between intentions, goals, and processes. Most importantly, the creative cycle demands the full expression of receptivity and action. All of these dynamics can be experienced within and across different disciplines.

None of us can manage the creative process. However, we can lead it by providing an environment of wellbeing, where workers and creativity can flourish. The primary element is a workplace that supports both receptivity and action. In an environment of strict hierarchy, receptivity and flexibility may seem counter-productive, but in reality, they are essential. Diversity of learning and working styles further supports this flexibility by providing a just and effective workplace. The more workers are supported in their most natural way of working, the more energy they have to do their work effectively, creatively, and safely. In highly-structured organizations, our challenge is to not allow worker creativity to go into hiding or to simply survive. Instead, leaders can create an environment where each person’s wellbeing, including their creativity, can flourish, where people experience themselves as more than the sum of their parts. The creative process is unique to each individual — yet common dynamics are shared amongst individuals and across multiple disciplines. Thus, the sciences, the arts, and technology often show similar creative forces. Ultimately, people who are happy become successful — dignity, wellbeing, and creativity are part of that experience.