The story is told that Henry Ford once procured an efficiency professional to examine the operation of his company. While this expert’s report was largely positive, he did express reservations about a particular employee. When questioned by Ford about who and the cause of concern, his reply was, “It’s that man down the corridor. Every time I go by his office he’s just sitting there with his feet on his desk. He’s wasting your money.”
“That man,” replied Ford, “once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars. At the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.”
Most leaders understand the value of creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, some leaders believe themselves to be the only person in the organization who can have a creative thought. Effective leaders, on the other hand, are not afraid to create a culture of creativity within the organization.
While Henry Ford did not allow every person in his organization to sit around with feet up on their desk, I believe his point about this particular employee is easily grasped. Generating a culture of creativity simply put is allowing the time and atmosphere to think or to brainstorm creatively. This can be individually as well as small groups. This atmosphere is to be broad enough to foster building on the strengths and ideas of others. All creativity becomes a team effort while giving credit where credit is due.
Perhaps the third ingredient to this type of atmosphere is to empower others to carry out the envisioned product, service, or idea. For many leaders, this can be the sticking point in the process. Not sticky, the sticking or blocking point. In other words, many leaders have difficulty empowering others with the leadership capabilities to carry out the task. Micro-managing kills creativity.
Too often in the workplace and in the church, we associate busyness with productivity. However, busyness can keep our employees/volunteers from their best creativeness.
Trusting and nurturing the creativity of your employees/volunteers is perhaps the greatest bridge between efficiency and effectiveness. Some of my biggest eye-opening moments were reading and seeing some of the creativity atmospheres developed in several Silicon Valley companies. To me, the atmospheres themselves were out of the box, creative, innovative, clever ideas.
What type of creative atmosphere exists in your organization? Is it top-down only? Or do you truly value the input of others – allowing them to not only create but flesh out and brainstorm with others the process to arrive at the desired creative ideas? What will you do this week to improve the creative atmosphere in your organization and your personal valuing of the creativeness of others?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.