Protecting Creativity When it is Not Valued
When creativity isnâ€™t appreciated in your organization culture, what can you do if changing jobs isnâ€™t an option?
I told the recent CreativeBloc audience that if anyone worked in a place that didnâ€™t value creativity and innovative ideas from its own people, it was best to get out; thus, this CreativeBloc question arose.
Honestly, unless youâ€™re an indentured servant where you work now, changing jobs and finding an organization that places a value on creativity is always an option. It just may be that changing jobs RIGHT NOW isnâ€™t an option.
If changing jobs in pursuit of a more creativity-friendly culture seems like a far-off possibility, you need to start preparing. The first steps are to make sure youâ€™re building a financial cushion (which may involve altering todayâ€™s lifestyle), honing your online presence to showcase your expertise and talents, and aggressively putting yourself in situations to meet and help people who can be a part of your future plan.
From the standpoint of protecting your creativity while you get ready to change jobs in the future, two streams of activity are vital:
- Developing and implementing a plan to cope with where you are (Plan A)
- Concurrently working on whatâ€™s next (Plan B)
Plan A â€“ Your Creativity Coping Plan at Your Current Job
If creativity isnâ€™t valued at your current job, identify what IS valued there. Ask yourself and others, â€œWhat matters in our organization?â€ Beyond asking the question, enhance your understanding by observing where the companyâ€™s management devotes its attention.
Once youâ€™ve figured out whatâ€™s valued, look for ways to introduce creativity (defined as â€œseeing things in new and different waysâ€) into areas the organization values. While you may be stretched to introduce creativity in what you think are non-traditional areas, itâ€™s vital for your creative health.
Make sure management notices your innovative contributions to company priorities. Call attention to what youâ€™re doing. Showcase the value youâ€™re creating for the organization. Donâ€™t do it in a cheesy, conceited way, but confidently make sure your contributions are recognized. Management visibility is important since youâ€™re going to need to reduce your emotional investment in your job. If the jobâ€™s not going to enrich your creativity, you canâ€™t afford to be too wrapped up in it. That doesnâ€™t mean you wonâ€™t perform well, but donâ€™t over-perform since youâ€™ll need to divert mental energy to other activities.
Personally, in my corporate life, our company began appreciating creativity even less than it had following significant management changes. What was valued? Cost cutting, stopping programs, and doing what we were doing with dramatically reduced expenditures. As a result, I tried to find creative and innovative ways to carry out those tasks. It wasnâ€™t nearly as rewarding as investing in new marketing programs, without a doubt. But taking initiative on these priorities demonstrated my active contribution to the organization even while shifting my mental focus to my Plan B.
Plan B â€“ Working on Whatâ€™s Next
If you havenâ€™t already, start looking at your entire life as a creative outlet. Concurrently, compartmentalize your work â€“ viewing it as one small part of your life – not your whole life. This move is vital since youâ€™re going to need creative energy to work on Plan B. You canâ€™t be successful in this dual track strategy if youâ€™re allowing your current job to drain you creatively.
Identify your distinctive talents and identify ways to incorporate them into everything you do in both your work and personal lives. Since these distinctive talents should be areas that most excite you creatively, youâ€™ll receive you a much needed creative boost by allowing them to occupy a bigger portion of your waking hours.
Begin creating a new, expanded creative team with which to surround yourself. Take advantage of both the people you know in person and those you meet through social media to share and fortify your creativity.
As your mind starts to clear creatively, begin identifying your strategic career options. As you do this, take deliberate steps to find and/or create your second, more creative â€œjob.â€ The job may be a paying one, or it could be volunteer work. It may be expressively focused on cultivating your creative pursuits. No matter what it is, your pursuit should be providing disproportionate creative fulfillment and leading you toward what your future holds â€“ moving your creative life and career pursuits in a way that todayâ€™s plan B becomes the plan A of some point in your very near future!
Mike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.
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