Key Elements of Creativity in Supported Employment


How do You Get from Here to There?

The first part of this series on X-treme Creativity focused on frustration and the desire for improving job development activities and results. In this segment, we zero in on the key element necessary for creativity to flourish. Grab a piece of paper and start your checklist. Consider doing a baseline assessment and come back next month to see how you are progressing in establishing a culture rich with opportunities to invigorate your supported employment outcomes.

Drive out fear out of the workplace.

This point is number eight on management guru, W. Ed Deming’s 14 Point on Management model. Fear does not feed more quality or productivity on the job. Fostering personal job satisfaction does. Driving fear out of your supported employment is essential. Take time to find out what your staff are afraid off. It might surprise you.

Stress inhibits imagination.

Ask yourself if you organization is rewarding being busy, overworked or being thoughtful, imaginative and collaboration. Did you know stress actually lowers individual and collective IQ scores by as much as 20 points n standard tests.

Have more fun!Creativity thrives in relaxed, fun environments. Fun is like sunshine to a flower. It can’t grow without it.

Educate yourself on adult learning principles and brain function. As a rehabilitation professional, make sure you have the most current information on how the brain works, how to stimulate new brain growth and raise functioning abilities. To operate at optimum peak performance levels we must discover how people learn, help them in the application of their knowledge, gifts, talents and abilities. As a job developer, you can find a good job for the job seeker, but if you can’t help them learn the new job the placement will ultimately fail.

The area of neuroplasticity grows every day. Developments are fueled by new research and technological breakthroughs. What you learned just a few years ago about learning, brain function and neurochemistry is most likely out of date.

What you want to know the brain, creativity and learning.

  1. The brain needs exposure to similar concepts over time to create new neuro-pathways in the brain. Varied repetition, not the kind of repetition which can be seen in day habilitation and sheltered workshops where people do the same daily activities for years, leads to actual physical changes in the brain’s neuro-network. What gets stimulated in the brain stays in the brain. Neurons which are not stimulated become disconnected from the neuro-network and eventually die. In other words, we have to “use it or lose it.”
  2. Kindergarten appears to be the peak time for our creative thinking. Perhaps, it is the conformity of our education which stifles our creativity or the fear of being different. The fact remains, we lose serious amount of creativity by the time we reach adulthood.
  3. There is good news, we can recover much of creativity because of neuroplasticity when creativity is nurtured. In fact, a high-trust work environments help us grow new neuro-connections. We can actually become smarter!
  4. A simple activity you can achieve with ease is breaking free from mind-numbing routines and ruts. Read new magazines, blogs, watch different news channels. If you listen to country music switch to pop or hip hop for a week. Take a different route to work, speak with co-workers in a different department, travel to a conference, and go have coffee with someone you don’t know in your organization.
  5. Reward new ideas. It will stimulate additional creativity. You can do this in small, often fun ways which will encourage reluctant associates to take small risks. It could be a simple as a gift card to a local coffee shop, a certificate of recognition or even an acknowledgement at a team meeting.
  6. Meaning and purpose drive the brain to high performance. Emotion connects thoughts to meaning. Don’t be afraid of a little emotion in the workplace, channel it into passion around your organization’s mission.
  7. Avoid multi-tasking. The brain requires focused attention and peripheral perception. While chaos can disrupt deadening routine and unlock a frozen work culture, once you and your team get past the crisis, things need to settle for ideas to take hold and grow.
  8. Adopting new concepts, building on great ideas takes time, creative elaboration and reflection to assess the implications of ingenuity.
  9. Eliminate time wasters. Be careful not let often endless and unproductive meetings sap your creative energy. Lack of time is the number-one reason people don’t feel like being creative. As noted above, creativity abounds in time in the stillness of the mind. Create some white space on your calendar—time for learning and exploration of the possible.
  10. Ask lots of questions. “What if?” “Why not?” Look at old problems from new perspectives.

In the last part of this series we will explore the idea of mistakes and how they can lead to X-treme Creativity.