Retail Observer

October 2021

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM OCTOBER 2021 44 Steven Morris On Brand A s many workplaces head back to the office, the process is taking unique forms. Many teams are looking for innovative ways to navigate the transition. And while there's lots to celebrate and plan for, we've gained qualities while working from home that we can reclaim during the transition. First, it's fairly obvious that over the past five-hundred-plus days of working from home, the time and space between our personal and professional lives has become blurred. Employees who realized more vital and uninterrupted thinking time at home might be missing it when they return to the office. One of the things I hear from the teams I work with is that they experienced greater creativity because of the greater time and space afforded by remote work. Various studies have suggested that the pandemic prompted an increased creative response due to the surge of stress, coupled with the space to respond resourcefully. The boost in creativity during the pandemic may also be due, in part, to the comforts of home. The absence of commuting, and the comfortable surroundings gave us more time to experiment, learn, and think. The number of people who learned new skills and took up new hobbies skyrocketed. In small teams and as a whole, most organizations are expected to be creative and innovative. However, without a sense of safety, creativity doesn't happen. If this rings true for your team, here are a few things we can take from the remarkably creative and very funny Monty Python veteran, John Cleese. Cleese breaks down the five factors that make our lives and work more creative: 1. Space: "You can't become playful and therefore creative if you're under your usual pressures." Give yourself and your team space to be playful. One company I work with has set up meeting areas in a garden. The space you carve out can become a fertile playground for fresh thinking. 2. Time: "It's not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time." For instance, brainstorming meetings give people space to roam among ideas, and time to allow fresh ideas to rise to the surface. And the best ideas usually aren't the first ones. 3. Time: "Give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original." Add this: learn to be patient with the discomfort of thinking and indecision. Instead of chasing ideas, let them come to you. 4. Confidence: "Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake." Again, brainstorming sessions give people the space to throw out crazy or "bad" ideas. Anyone who's afraid of appearing foolish will hesitate to be creative. 5. Humor: "The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else." Humor is a marker for intelligence. Humor opens our minds to new ways of thinking and seeing. The one-minute video is well worth a watch if you want to apply Cleese's operating model for creativity in your culture. He concludes with a beautiful expression of his approach to being creative: "This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If you just keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious." Cleese notes that, "Creativity is not a talent. It's a way of operating." Just as the skills within cultures are underscored by their prevailing values, skills are also taught through training, reward, and encouragement. Organizations now have a ripe opportunity to help their team members make the delicate transition back to the office with a stronger sense of psychological safety. They also have the opportunity to reclaim some of the benefits we realized from working at home. CREATIVITY: A WORKING MODEL FOR HEADING BACK TO THE OFFICE Is your team primed for optimal creativity, in and out of the office? Steven Morris is a brand, culture and leadership advisor, author, and speaker. Over his 25+ years in business he's worked with 3,000+ business leaders at 250+ global and regional companies. Discover: RO

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