Innovating When Personal Creativity is Uncomfortable

Innovating When Personal Creativity is Uncomfortable Is your mission to make everybody comfortable with their personal creativity?

I’ll admit this generalization of my favorite CreativeBloc question is in my words, not the attendee’s. His questions (“How do you make Becky more comfortable? Should we try to make a Mike Brown out of a Becky?”) relate to a story about a person (not her real name) frequently shared in my innovation presentations.

The abbreviated version is Becky worked with our large corporation (having been at another large corporation before) and was very uncomfortable sharing her perspectives in a creative session we conducted. The reason? Her self-perceived lack of experience and the pressure of not being able to plan her creative contributions ahead of time. She wanted a creative situation that was the antithesis of how we apply the Brainzooming process. She isn’t unique in her fear of sharing her unscrubbed points of view, however, so how to deal with those like her is a great topic. Let’s tackle the two questions the audience member posed:

Question 1 – How do you make Becky (and those like her) more comfortable?

Becky would be most comfortable and perfectly happy taking orders from someone and squelching her perspective because she grew up in an environment where that was rewarded. And the corporation where she got her experience is certainly not the only one which values that from its people. Given that, there are lots of places she could have gone and been a lot more comfortable than working with us.

Question 2 – Should we try to make a Mike Brown out of Becky?

I definitely don’t want everyone to be like me! But I do think people should be open about sharing their diverse perspectives, entertaining new ideas, and contributing to a team being more successful in new and innovative ways. If you share that perspective and have someone like her working for you who genuinely wants to expand her horizons, several things could help her grow:

1. Get her involved in every creative situation possible

This will expose her to a less hierarchical structure and a more interactive style. Seeing others share ideas – some good and some not so good – and realizing ideas which don’t get picked don’t get you in trouble would be beneficial for her.

2. Arm her with tools such as those which frustrated her in the creative session

What types of tools? The ones shared here that aid in strategic and creative thinking. The tools here are intended to help people for whom strategic and creative thinking don’t come easily to flourish while reducing the stress they feel in these situations.

3. Give her assignments in unfamiliar areas

This would both frustrate and stretch her. But helping her understand upfront how her experience translates to and helps her in unfamiliar situations will make her a much stronger contributor.

If your Becky really wants to change, this developmental strategy should create a much more fulfilled and successful Becky!


I sincerely hope you’ve benefited from these posts answering CreativeBloc questions. I’m looking forward to doing more of this based on questions from future presentations.

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Mike BrownMike 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.

Mike Brown




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