There is no doubt that being a manager today is a different and more demanding challenge than it has been in the past. The much-talked-about globalization of business operations has forced managers to expand their mental horizons beyond the old borders. This is not an easy task, since most managers still have problems dealing with territories that are supposed to be familiar by now. Learning a foreign language, taking a course on cultural differences, and knowing which countries are where are no longer intellectual luxuries.
And with the world’s fast moving changes that mean cutting-edge technology of a few months ago is today obsolete, managers are expected to be innovative and quick. The key to doing this is to be creative.
Creativity is not a skill most managers learned at school or in their work experience. In fact, traditional management preparation has been centered on using rational intelligence to make decisions about what to do next. It is not surprising, then, that more and more companies are offering their managers workshops in the creative process, which consists of a lot more than learning how to conduct a brain-storming session.
According to Clara Kluk, a painter who provides creativity workshops for companies in Mexico, the creative process involves exploring the many types of intelligence we all possess. Besides the now well-known emotional intelligence, she says, we have others, such as musical, mathematical, spatial, and inter-personal intelligence. Each type is able to contribute to our creative process, thereby allowing us to solve problems better and faster. All we need to do is develop them.
Because creativity is closely associated with artistic activities, many of these workshops bring people from the arts. In theory, if you can apply the creative process in the business world, both the individual and the company benefit. Some people may find that their stronger types of intelligence are not being utilized in their current positions and try to find jobs in which they can be more creative. Companies benefit as well because they can place people within the organization based on how each person’s creative energy can best be utilized.
Alejandro Navarro, a Mexican entrepreneur, sees creativity as a way to solve problems that come up in his business.
“It’s useful because you create the necessary distance to be able to see things that you otherwise couldn’t,” he says. “In my case, when I am being creative, it’s when many solutions to problems in my business come to my mind. It think it is essential for me as an entrepreneur to have this creative time.”
Creativity is not only about generating new ideas, however, but also about communicating old ideas in a creative fashion. If nothing else, creative communication gets people’s attention. Now, getting people’s attention, be it in the context of an advertising campaign or in the confines of a staff meeting, is in itself a significant hurdle to conquer. Everybody is bombarded by reports, memos, emails, new project proposals, and conversations. And because managers are overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to process, they become selective about what they will pay attention to. If you can be creative in how you communicate your ideas, the receptive audience will be there.
We all aim to be creative thinkers, but it isn’t only about thinking. It’s about creative feelings, creative communication, creative use of our space, and so on. It’s time to wake up the poet, the musician, the painter, and the dancer inside you. And guess what, it can be not only fun, but highly profitable as well.