In times of ongoing uncertainty like today, people tend to look for certainty by reverting to fixed patterns of thinking, while all organizations, private as well as public, not for profit and for profit, need to rely on creativity and innovation. Now more than ever. Faced with the challenge to manage this polarity, leaders need to choose for creative leadership. It starts with helping create a culture of psychological safety in the organization.
In times of crisis the need for creativity and innovation is high
In times of crisis people tend to revert to existing solutions and ways of working, to rely on fixed patterns of thinking and to reproduce what has been done before. It is a way to cope with the ongoing uncertainty.
Organisations on the other hand are under severe pressure. To remain future proof, they need to reinvent themselves. What this means, will differ according to the organisation but one thing is certain: it is only possible by overcoming existing patterns of thinking, by putting creativity and innovation first.
Create psychological safety for your team
How do you enable teams to be creative against a background of ongoing uncertainty? How do you make sure they ask questions, spot errors, generate new and original ideas, experiment and take risis? How do you let them question the statu quo?
It starts with creating the conditions that can enable the creation of a culture of psychological safety in your organization. Psychological safety is a feature of a workplace where people believe they will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes. This is a primary role to take up by the leadership of the organization. In her research, discussed in The Fearless organization’, Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson shows that leaders can mainly do 2 things to provide for psychological safety:
- Frame every challenge as a learning opportunity for which you need everybody’s brain.
- Model the behavior you expect: ask a lot of questions and show you are curious, admit your mistakes and show you are ready to take risks and to fail, listen carefully and build on the ideas of others and show your openness to novelty. Those are the behaviors of a creative leader.
Stimulate creativity with an applied creativity process model
Creating psychological safety does not mean there is no accountability. On the contrary, it is not an objective in itself, but it is needed to realize workable creative solutions that are successful. That is why another aspect of creative leadership consists in stimulating teams to identify, test and launch new opportunities by providing them tools to make this happen. Creative Problem Solving is such a tool. It is an applied creativity process that helps teams tackle challenges in a structured and creative way. This 4-step process (Problem Finding, Idea Finding, Solution Finding and Acceptance Finding) has proven to be a very powerful methodology to develop creative solutions for challenges in highly complex, fuzzy situations at the scale of organizations or societies as well as to develop creative products or services.
On top of being a process model, Creative Problem Solving also has a personal component:it provides insight in the level of personal preference for each of the steps of the Creative Problem Solving process as well as the collective preferences of a team. This interaction between the process and the personal preferences accelerates the integration and the effect of the Creative Problem Solving model. You might want to speed things up at this moment in time.
By choosing creative leadership, you will help to create psychological safety, needed for people to learn to be curious, open to novelty and take risks. Adding an applied creativity process model such as Creative Problem Solving will provide a necessary frame of reference in times of uncertainty and at the same time stimulate those behaviors. It is the only way for organizations to successfully reinvent themselves and remain future proof.