Good Business: Facilitating a Creative-Friendly Work Environment

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In a survey by the American Management Association, CEOs agreed that practicing creativity and innovation was what businesses need to survive in the 21st century, according to an article in Psychology Today by Stanley S. Gryskiewicz and Robert Epstein. However, only 6% of the CEOs felt that their organizations were doing a ''great job'' of it.

''This creativity deficit may be the single most dangerous gap in American business today,'' Gryskiewicz and Epstein say. ''More than just a buzzword, creativity is the secret to business success that American companies can no longer afford to ignore.''

FRCH Worldwide Design, a Cincinnati architecture and interior design firm, is known for facilitating a creative-friendly work environment for its employees, reports the Wall Street Journal.

''We are in the business of selling our creativity as our product, so it’s especially important to us,'' said Jim Tippman, chief executive of FRCH, according to the Journal. ''But every business that’s going to thrive in this modern environment to stay competitive and beat offshore competition needs its employees to be innovative.''

In his book, A Whole New Mind, author Daniel Pink argues that the United States has passed through the ''Information Age'' of its civilization cycle and has now reached the ''Conceptual Age.'' Where the Information Age was brought about by knowledge and logic, the Conceptual Age will be facilitated by creators and empathizers.

''Pink points to Asia, automation, and abundance as the reasons behind the shift. Left-brain linear, analytical, computer-like thought is being replaced by right-brain empathy, inventiveness, and understanding as skills most needed by business,'' says Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work. ''Creativity requires whole-brain thinking; right-brain imagination, artistry, and intuition, plus left-brain logic and planning,'' Naiman says.

FRCH’s Tippman says that providing an office with stimulating interior architecture was one of the first ways they approached encouraging creativity among their employees.

Interior Architects Inc. (IA) specializes in corporate design interiors. They have worked with a number of Fortune 500 clients. Among those, IA works with Motorola at multiple locations throughout the United States.

''For their new location on Pennsylvania Avenue, Motorola wanted not only to emphasize its world class leadership in the design, production, and distribution of communications technology and electronics, but to invigorate its workforce with a reinvented workplace,'' IA’s website says.

''IA chose movement as a major design theme expressed through the curvilinear geometry of wall layouts, ceiling treatments, and carpet designs. Simple, easy-to-navigate circulation routes encourage communication across business units,'' the site continues. ''Sliding glass doors and a full height re-positional wall system for all interior walls, including offices and 'huddle' spaces/rooms, provide maximum flexibility and efficiency. Modular and mobile furniture in both open and closed business areas can be easily reconfigured to meet personal preferences and changing business needs.''

For TiVo in San Jose, CA, IA designed a 127,000 square foot facility to reinforce the TiVo brand and to support the company’s collaborative culture.

''The main corridor through the facility acts as a storytelling device, leading visitors from the lobby along the computer room, editing suites, demonstration area, and boardroom. A product demonstration room, enclosed by curtains, evokes a home theater experience,'' IA’s site explains.

''In the 'town center,' TiVo’s primary gathering area, the entire staff comes together to share information on the latest company and industry developments,'' the site continues. ''An espresso bar and acoustically insulated music room are some of the amenities that provide a change of pace during the workday.''

Regarding methods of encouraging creativity in the office, ''The way forward is paradoxically not to look ahead, but to look around,'' explains John Sealy Brown, director of the Palo Alto Research Center for Xerox, as reported by Gryskiewicz and Epstein.

''It is the responsibility of creative leaders to provide their organizations with opportunities for exploring the periphery. It can be done on both the individual and the organizational levels and can involve either internal or external resources,'' Gryskiewicz and Epstein say.

Learning to streamline creativity in the workplace and to utilize it effectively is very rewarding on a personal and corporate level, Naiman indicates.

''Time is cyclical, and we can transform our lives through change. Nature itself is an example of constant birth, growth, death, and renewal,'' Naiman continues. ''Understanding the nature of creativity and how to develop it at the personal and organizational level will help us to create the world we want.''

''One of the problems with creativity is that it tends to be chaotic and messy,'' Naiman says. “It grows in a non-linear fashion, like an unruly visitor in the controlled environment of the boardroom. We need to learn to shift our thinking, to work with the chaos.''
On the net:Interior Architects Inc.

Creativity at Work

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