Almost any modern company in the world looks for ways to increase their employees’ motivation and engagement. We do our best work when we are engaged and feel connected to what we do. And when we consider the context of a workplace, engagement also means loyalty. When we are doing something not just because we are expected to, we feel part of a greater whole, so we feel more attached to the collective.
Almost any modern company in the world is trying to be innovative and creative. Creativity and innovation are almost always part of a company’s vision. As competition is growing and disruption becomes ever more common, Creativity is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity, often required for the survival of the business.
Surprisingly, despite these two challenges being widely accepted, not too many companies address them systematically and successfully. Increasing motivation and enhancing collective Creativity are often not backed up by concrete, actionable plan.
What if these two challenges are connected? What if solving one could help to solve the other? Imagine it takes just a small trigger to create a chain reaction that will turn both motivation and Creativity from mere words to an integral part of the organizational mindset.
Creativity is often ignited by playfulness. Play is an essential part of The Creativity Operating System — it can boost Creativity by orders of magnitude. One of the critical elements of Play is having a sense of freedom. When you feel you have a choice, you become more playful. And when you are more playful, you are more creative. Before we try to answer the question “how can we increase the sense of freedom in a business organization?” let’s assume that we managed to do so. Imagine your team members have a strong sense of freedom, they are feeling playful, and as a result, they can apply their Creativity more naturally. Now comes the magical part…
As you are more creative and have more opportunities to apply your Creativity, you feel more motivated and engaged. The sense of freedom and playfulness, which by itself is a motivation-booster, is magically increased when you feel you are in a creative playground. Like in many other aspects of Creativity, this powerful feedback loop might sometimes start with an artificial setup, but soon it gains momentum and a life of its own.
When I was a Software Developer, I had to spend long hours investigating and solving bugs. At first, I felt this is not what I signed up for. I preferred to develop new features, solve design challenges, and create something new everyone would value. Solving bugs was a necessary evil. It had to be done just so no one will know these bugs ever existed.
One evening, I got so bored, I decided to play — not instead of doing my work, but on top of it. I imagined I was a detective trying to hack my way into some software system. I imagined the bug was hidden somewhere on purpose, and I was in some mind-game trying to find it. I competed against myself, trying to find bugs faster. I gamified this activity that was forced upon me, and soon it became a playground. The more playful solving bugs became, the more creative I became. Without really planning to, I found new, innovative ways to track down these nasty bugs. And with each such success, the challenge became greater.
Here’s the really magical part of it. With the increased playfulness and Creativity, I became more motivated. The more I saw a personal value in what started as a mundane activity, the more creative I became. And as I became more creative, my level of engagement increased. I no longer saw this as a necessary evil. Solving bugs became an important part of my work. It wasn’t important just to the team or to the company. It was important to me. As I became more motivated, I found even better ways to address the bug-solving challenge. My increased motivation made me more creative.
The trigger for this reinforcing feedback loop might have been artificial to some extent. I had to convince myself I was playing a game. But the minute I managed to do that, the creative momentum gained a life of its own, and with it, my motivation grew, I felt more engaged, and my Creativity grew even further. When you are inside a positive reinforcing loop, you feel you can do just about anything.
Increasing motivation and boosting Creativity might have started as two distinct challenges. Luckily, these two challenges are tightly connected. Both Creativity and motivation can benefit from a broader and deeper methodical approach. It would be naïve to say that addressing one of them will automatically turn the other into a non-issue. However, the connection between these two significant challenges can trigger the first step to change the momentum. Both motivation and Creativity are part of any healthy working environment. When you realize there is a powerful feedback loop between them, you might be able to take some simple measures to create a setup that will soon turn into a significant, positive change.