Think about a place where creativity would be encouraged and nurtured.
Did you envision an art studio, a theatre, or maybe a child’s playroom?
All those places come to mind pretty easily, but I’m willing to bet there’s one place that didn’t, and that’s the pharmacy workplace.
The traditional working life that many of us see as the 9-to-5 grind in a monotonous and constricting work space, with endless dreaming about Fridays and weekends–doesn’t always leave a lot of time for creativity.
After all, you generally have a set amount of tasks you need to accomplish, and you’d rather not try something new when it comes to completing them.
Being creative at work generally means taking risks, which might make you hesitate and put it in the “too hard” basket.
Fear of the unknown is a powerful thing, especially when it means you might fail.
But done collaboratively after discussion with management and co-workers, it can be a reality.
Always, when I was working in an environment that I did not own or control I sought to establish a project that could provide benefit for the business or professional side of that pharmacy.
One caution to note is that any intellectual property that you claim as your own, might be lost if your project was developed during work hours or involved contributions to that property, by co-workers.
An intellectual property agreement might be necessary (in advance) to avoid potential legal threats if that same intellectual property was sold commercially at a later date. That is, provided the idea was portable and valuable.
Particularly if you have personally developed that intellectual property to a near-point of commercialisation by yourself in your own time.
But here’s the thing: creativity in the workplace is absolutely important.
If you can apply creative thinking to your everyday work life, you’ll find that not only will the day stop feeling like drudgery, but you’ll be unlocking more meaningful results.
The clock will seem to race and be hardly visible as everyone takes a genuine interest in creating something new or different and all will have some ownership of the project and be able to claim an association with it when future employment opportunities occur and a resume’ that “stands out”, is required.
And this doesn’t just go for employees, but for managers as well–in fact, managers have the ability to be the conductors of creativity for their staff. Sometimes it has to start from the top!
Creativity is necessary for optimal work, and managers can foster this spirit within the workplace and its people.
Being creative in the workplace goes far beyond making the prettiest spreadsheet or the most colourful PowerPoint presentation.
Instead, there are two main ways that creativity is absolutely needed in the workplace: creative thinking and creative problem solving.
Creative thinking is pretty simple to define, but a bit harder to implement. Basically, if you’re a creative thinker, it means that you come up with ideas that are entirely unique.
It’s easy to come up with the same rote concepts for a project or a new campaign, especially if you’ve used them before.
But when you start thinking creatively and getting a little daring, you may be surprised at what your brain can come up with.
It’s this “throw everything to the wall and see what sticks” method that creative thinkers truly shine at.
An additional bonus to being a creative thinker is that you understand the success in failure.
Creative thinkers know that one’s talents are best used to make results that might come from extraordinary circumstances or out-of-the-box methods.
Failure is simply on step in a progression of a series of steps, to test and provide a final shape and form for your project.
To get these results, you may need to take a risk–something that can be frowned upon in the workplace. This can also be a bit scary, because it means you might fail.
If you’re forever trying for success (because failure is not an option), then you’ll be reticent to step out of your bubble.
You’ll be using your creativity in ways that guarantee safe and secure results, and that’s not what creative thinking is for.
Shaking up the status quo is the modus operandi of creative thinkers, and is one of the biggest reasons why creative thinkers are valued in the workplace.
Creative problem solving comes into play when trying to fix an issue that has many possible resolutions.
While a lot of problems in the workplace have one or two clear solutions, creative people have the ability to look at all sides of the issues, and many times can come up with solutions that might be completely new and interesting.
Employees and managers benefit from creative problem solving because it can take them–and sometimes the pharmacy itself–in a whole new direction. It pays to stray off the beaten path and the current pharmacy culture could very much benefit from an infusion of “creatives” in the decision-making area at all levels of the pharmacy industry.
If you’re a manager and you can’t shake the feeling that your staff is uninspired and relying on the same old concepts and solutions, then it’s time to start fostering creativity.
Those who have the tendency to feel stagnant and bored in their work will benefit deeply from learning how to think creatively.
Adding the management style of “mentoring” can trigger creative thinking and it can have a ripple effect if it is encouraged through the entire workplace.
Creativity and its importance in business, points to four main creative strengths that can be taught:
- Fluency:Coming up with more than one idea along the same topic or theme. Simple exercises where employees are encouraged to come up with multiple uses for a single ordinary object are a great way to encourage this skill.
- Flexibility:The same as above, but with creating multiple ideas across topics and themes that may or may not be similar. This can help employees link together possible ideas.
- Elaboration:Being able to add more details, viewpoints, and perspectives to existing information. See if your employees can describe an experience using all of their senses.
- Originality:Coming up with ideas that are unique and out of the ordinary. Try holding semi-regular brainstorms with your staff and encouraging them to put down all of their ideas, not just the ones that they’re already certain will work.
A “think tank” format held away from the workplace on a regular basis will improve the value and output from creatives, and this time will always “pay” its way – it is never a cost.
As the leader of the group, you can foster and nurture creative thinking in your employees through a continuous mentoring process, which allows for recognition and praise for employee performance.
It can be all too easy to turn down an idea because you think it won’t work, but muffling the creative thinkers in your workplace means that innovation will be stifled, and they’ll be less likely to keep coming up with new and smart solutions.
It’s not just the employees who shouldn’t be afraid to try new things and possibly fail–it can be the managers as well.
True business and marketing leaders will embrace uncertainty and complexity as creative catalysts that invite and, in fact, demand innovation.
Creative leaders should view constraints at every level as exciting challenges that release–not restrict–creative responses.
Additionally, creative leadership recognizes the risk in trying new things and doesn’t fear failure.
Always celebrate the dreamers and creatives in your workplace, and turn those little “gems” they put out, potentially creating laughter and derision, and turn them into polished “diamonds”.
From the most ridiculous of suggestions comes a platform that when everyone genuinely considers what is proposed, multiple positive additions will flow and attach to the original thought, giving it form and substance.
This type of “uniqueness” should be the cause of celebration because it will bind everyone in making a contribution to a “whole” and developed concept.
These days, creativity has become more important than ever in insuring that a workplace runs happily and produces innovative concepts.
Whether as staff, manager or pharmacy owner, once you learn to embrace the fear of failure and the joy of stepping out of your tried-and-true methods, you’ll find that a whole avenue of creative ideas and solutions will become open to you.
It is a singular problem for the entirety of pharmacy that this has not occurred. There is simply a lack of leadership skills at all levels.
Just get on with it!