#027 – Corporate Creativity That’s Not Cheesy (With Dr. Caroline Brookfield)

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Podcast Summary

On this show, we connect with Dr. Caroline Brookfield. As a veterinarian, researcher, and stand-up comedian, Caroline delights in using humor and immersive experiences, backed up with research and data, to sway the most reluctant creative. She believes that if everyone took small, unconventional actions to embrace their inherent creativity, we could change the world.

Bonus Resources

Get in touch with Tim – timborys.com

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the working well podcast. I’m Tim Boris CEO of Fresh Wellness Group. This show explores the diverse aspects of workplace health and personal performance on the working world podcast. We dive into the foundations of what makes wellness work in workplaces around the. We connect with corporate leaders, executives, and industry experts who are helping make life more awesome at work and home.

Join us to learn workplace wellness, best practices, personal performance tips, and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs. Meet Dr. Caroline Brookfield. She believes that if everyone took small unconventional actions to embrace their inherent creativity, we could change the world.

Caroline is on the edge between art and science, thrilled to discover that we don’t have to choose as a veterinarian researcher and standup comedian Caroline delights and using humor and immersive experiences backed up with research and data to sway the most reluctant creative. She is always up for a challenge like learning guitar, rock climbing, getting her kids to eat vegetables, surfing and meditation retreats with sniper rifles, you know, the usual stuff.

Caroline received her veterinary degree from the Ontario veterinary college is a certified level, two creative problem solving facilitator and holds a certificate of professional management from the university of Calgary, where she lives, her lectures go on heated by her family, but the dog listens sometimes

Caroline, so great to have you on the show. Welcome. Welcome to the working world podcast. Thank you so much, Tim. I’m excited. Excellent. So today we’re going to talk a lot about creativity and well outside of traditional creative industries, maybe art and design or something like that. People rarely think about creativity when they talk about jobs in the corporate.

Um, talk a bit more about that. Like, how did you get into corporate creativity? Um, I think a lot of people consider creativity, something artistic. So most people will say, oh, I’m not creative. I can’t paint or I can’t dance or sing. And, um, the funny thing about creativity is it doesn’t have to be artistic.

And what I love about creativity is everybody’s doing it every day. So people who say they’re not creative are doing creative things. They just don’t call it creativity. Like a pivot table is creative or, um, you know, choosing a new way to work or making a meal. Those are all examples of everyday creativity and we do it at work all day.

Very cool. I hadn’t thought of creative pivot tables before that. Uh, I’ve noticed some, uh, Excel masters that are amazing in what they do. So, yeah, that’s, that’s a great thought, but yeah, overcoming that perception is very challenging. So what are some of the barriers that you see when you’re meeting with corporate executives or, you know, team leads and things like that in companies?

What, uh, what have you faced in that? It’s funny because something like 92% of companies have innovation as a core value or a belief in the value of innovation. But I think what companies and individuals are struggling with is how to create the conditions for individual creativity. So, you know, I see innovation starts with, I it’s so much easier to spend.

And the bulk of the time we spend in innovation is on the execution and those supply gene and the, you know, sourcing and procurement. But that little slice, that couple of percentage of the creativity part is where we often fall flat because it’s completely counterintuitive to the whole idea of productivity.

So if we’re used to like spending 90% of our time in productivity and ROI and, and, um, you know, metrics and KPIs, it can be difficult to switch out of that mode and get into a creative mode. And I think people think they’re doing it. They’re not getting through that kind of barrier, like you said, and getting through to the really true innovation and then really, truly good ideas because they’re kind of stopping at that first paper, mentally improvement area, but not into the disruptive innovation.

Yeah. Okay. And we’ll, we’ll talk in a little bit about some of the things that people can do, uh, to, or like people and companies can do in the corporate world to improve creativity. But what, in terms of business, what does it mean for business? When people are more. Oh, Tim there’s so much. It’s the rabbit hole.

I went down and it was like fireworks going off in the rabbit hole for me because there’s because I’m very, evidence-based know my background as, you know, as a veterinarian. So I, I believe that it’s important to have data and evidence, and there’s so much evidence showing that on an individual level, if we exercise our everyday creativity, which is basically the bulk of what I speak about.

We have a better mood. The next day there’s research in nurses, family, caregivers, engineers, a variety of different people. That show when we use our creativity every day, we’re happier. And what else happens at work is it increases our job performance up to 30% in some studies, our job satisfaction, um, improves team cohesion.

And especially with this, what do they call it? The great resignation. You know, everybody’s talking about that. If an employee identifies themselves as being creative, they’re half as likely to be looking for a different job. So from a corporate standpoint, it’s it’s, to me, the secret sauce for retaining employees and engaging.

Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of people would think that, you know, it seems weird to have someone who talks about creativity on the working world podcasts, because we’re tend to be more business focused and about wellbeing of people, but wellbeing and creativity go hand in hand. And so can you talk a little bit more about that?

The health and the happiness aspect of employees that, that are in creative fields or that see themselves as creative or that have an expression for their creative. Yeah. And I think that’s the key. Jim is the expression of creativity, because you could be in a very traditionally non-creative role, like an accountant building a pivot table.

Or if you’re in a meeting where you feel like your voice is hurting, you’re contributing to like the workflow of the break room hygiene or something like that. Even, you know, those are all examples of using our creativity and. And the workplace specifically, one of my favorite studies actually, and I interviewed her a few weeks ago is a Karen Fewster out of Australia.

I did work around, um, uh, a dimension called tolerance of ambiguity. And that is how well are we? How comfortable are we when things are ambiguous? And we don’t know the. The answer is most people are not good in ambiguity, but I bring that up because in her research and other research, it correlates tolerance of ambiguity as, as a kind of a dimension, which is partially based on personality, genetics, but it’s also influenceable.

Is that a word influence?

I’m creative. I’m creating my own. Exactly, exactly. Urban dictionary. Exactly. There’ll be the new word for 2022. Um, so there’s tons of ambiguity, there’s creativity, and then there’s resilience and all three of those dimensions are highly, highly correlated. So I haven’t seen a study where the causal cause causation is correlation is not causation, but the idea is if you could influence one of those, can you influence one of the other ones?

And if you think about it, creativity is having something in your brain and then trying to put it into the world. And it’s the ultimate and facing ambiguity, you know, when you’re making a meal or building a pivot table or, um, creating a new product line. You don’t know what it’s going to look like until you actually do it.

So that’s facing uncertainty. Facing potential failure. And then if it doesn’t work rebounding and starting again. So the actual act of exercising, our creativity is a bootcamp for resilience because we’re learning how to step into that uncomfortable place of ambiguity and continue anyway, and despite the possibility of failure.

So I think that’s how it’s correlated as far as was only in schools when it comes to wellbeing, some researchers and I think a year or two ago, Discovered that the reason we like exercising our creativity, the reason that feels good is because it’s problem-solving. So as a species, we love to solve problems, doing something creative and solving problems.

And that’s why it makes us. Absolutely. And there I’m on your website. I was checking it out. He had a great stat that creativity is projected to be the number three job skill required by employers. And that’s in 2020.

But you also said by 20, 30, 80 5% of jobs have not yet been invented. So what, like how does creativity fit into that? Yeah, it depends on which, um, source you’re looking at in which year. So LinkedIn had creativity last year as the number one skill world economic forum, um, is calling it, uh, one of the number ones.

It’s funny because a lot of times they have it as creativity. But sometimes it’s under problem solving, like problem solving will be number three. And then we have like, um, you know, innovation, like they’re all kind of mixed in together, but definitely it’s been the number one skill in LinkedIn in 2020 Bloomberg in 2019, you know, McKinsey, um, the economists have all been touting the really important benefits of creativity to this.

Yeah. And I, as like, as you had mentioned in that stat 85% of jobs haven’t been created, so there’s massive room for disruption and. Creativity in designing the future and companies that have people out there working on that and, and thinking of new ideas and trying new things. And that doesn’t happen unless you’re exploring creativity in the business that are in and facilitating it as a culture.

Exactly. And I mean, you can look at the pandemic as an example, how many industries and jobs are there now that weren’t around in February of 2020, like, you know, uh, GEP or somewhat PPE, um, protective equipment, fogging, you know, travel thing. Like there’s a huge industry now around, um, something we didn’t even know was going to exist in February of 2020, really.

And, uh, to your point that so many jobs haven’t been created yet and, uh, RBC put out a feature of skills or can I believe that was even before the pandemic. And they said by 2025, uh, 85 million jobs will be. Deleted, and it will be replaced with many, 7 million new jobs that we don’t really even know what they’re going to be yet.

So as an, as an employer and executive, how do you face that ambiguity and how do you use your creativity to make that an advantage as opposed to a liability? Yeah. And you said, um, uh, tolerance to ambiguity was a key factor in wellbeing, I guess you would say how. How does all this fit together with some of these key, hot buttons that are going on right now, stress and mental health.

And you already mentioned the great resignation that is probably coming a bit later to Canada than it is the U S but, but I can almost guarantee it is coming well. How did they all, um, so it was the question. How do they help? Yeah. Sorry. Yeah, like how does that we’re facing a time of huge Ang ambiguity.

And that is a big stressor for a lot of people, but how does it impact with stress mental health and all these changes we’re seeing and how, I guess, how can companies harness that more effectively to improve their business and their odds of success in this type of environment? Yeah. I think the, one of the first things, which is the hardest thing to do is not to react.

So neurologically when we’re faced with ambiguity and we feel uncertain, we react with status, post solutions, you know, something that’s worked for thousands of years to keep us alive. It’s probably instinctively going to work, but not anymore and not in a business. So that’s where tolerance of ambiguity comes in and it uses mindfulness techniques, which is also great for men, but they’re also interconnected.

Jim. It’s like a big tangle of yarn. So if you’re mindful, you can say, it’s okay, I’m an ambiguity. Now I recognize I’m feeling uncertain, but I don’t need to rush to a solution. And then assigning the amount of time you need to, um, you know, start creating and using a process, maybe like design thinking or creative problem solving to actually take a problem through.

Instead of just reacting. So I think that is one of the first things for everybody to do when we feel uncertain. Because how many times have you seen people just trying to shove their regular in office techniques onto. Right there, like all the time. So this is what we did in office. We’ll just do it where everybody’s at home.

Like that doesn’t have to be that way. Right. So if you take the problem of how do we get our work done when we’re not in the office, that’s a totally different question then. How do we recreate our office virtually? Yeah. So I think asking the right questions and taking the time to find the right question is a really important.

Yeah. I had a great conversation with a friend of mine who works at a pretty, a traditional old school company. And it was he’s like command and control. Leadership does not work in a virtual world when you can’t see everyone at your desks. And they’re man trying to mandate people back to the office and they were, they were back in the office back in like may or something because.

The leadership is stuck in that mindset and things, people were slacking. And so there’s so much of that and not being able to think in a different way about how is this, how can this be a benefit to us and how can we adapt and grow and evolve. And I guess in a way that’s leadership creativity, would you say yes, definitely.

I think when you’re talking about an organization that’s like that with a traditional top down approach. Those are probably people who are not tolerant to ambiguity. And aren’t recognizing that their response to ambiguity is to force. It’s not as cool solutions. And I think that that’s a deficiency because if we want to keep up with the pace of how things are changing, it’s not going to be.

But just because it’s worked for you for 20 years, it doesn’t mean it’s what, what worked for us yesterday might not even work for us tomorrow in this environment. So being able to be, I think a lot of that when you talk about leadership being creative and leadership is a vulnerability, it takes a great amount of vulnerability to be curious, and to be creative because you have to say, I don’t know the answer, how are we going to find the answer?

And so for a leadership style, it’s very authoritarian and very. Yeah, traditional, it’s going to be very difficult for them to move into a space where they’re asking questions about creativity, because they just want to hammer that nail in harder. Right? Yeah. And so that, that brings us to a great transition, I guess, to what can companies do to foster creativity, especially if leadership is.

If there’s an executive or a leader watching this now, and they’re probably starting to notice a few things like, oh yeah, maybe I haven’t been fostering creativity. How can they start to do that in their organization? Yeah. And I know business leaders really like to see that things have been looked at from, um, you know, a strategic and business perspective.

So one of the studies I liked the best is when done by Gallup was fairly recently and they found that there are three main criteria that leaders and companies could use to encourage creativity at work. Number one, the expectation to be creative. Number two, that time to be creative, which is huge. And third one is freedom to take risks.

So when you talk about being expected to be creative the time and the freedom to take risks, a lot of that is a very, um, intertwined with psychological safety. So, if you were in an unsafe environment, you’re not going to take any breasts. Right? So, um, I think freedom to take risks. I mean, that seems so simple.

Oh, just let people take risks, but I mean, psychological safety is one of the biggest puzzles we’re trying to figure out. I think companies are really trying to figure out how to nail that piece. And if you can do that, I think creativity will naturally come. Especially if you give those other incentives of an expectation to be creative.

Like I expect you to come to meetings and expect to come to me with, um, you know, ideas and solutions. And if all three are present, it also increases employee engagement. Seven out of 10 power employees feel empowered to innovate. If those conditions are present versus two out of 10, if those conditions are not.

Absolutely. I saw that stat that you had. I think you had said it in one of your presentations. And I was like, wow, that’s huge. And you, uh, you said, uh, there was another one I read 80, 88% of gen Z believed that creativity will be essential to their success. And was it like 18% of employees? Only, only they can feel only 18% of people feel they can take risks to be creative and.

Yeah. If creativity is the skill that is gonna help us evolve and grow and solve problems beyond where we are now, yet there people aren’t feeling safe and that leads to poor wellbeing, higher stress levels for productivity and more of the same that we’ve been getting. I mean, it’s hard. Like I do stand up comedy for fun.

One of the hardest things is stepping out on to a virtual or figurative stage and share your creative, deep ideas with the world. Because not only do you have to get past your internal judgment of this thing is stupid. You have to worry about external judgment. And the first one is hard enough, but if you’re in an environment where, you know, it’s been the first three comedians got up and got tomatoes thrown at them and criticized and booed off the stage.

You’re not going to share your ideas and you’re going to start just punching that card and just doing what we need to do to get through the day. And then you leave, like nobody wants to her shit want to live like that. You know, we should want to go to work and feel like we’re contributing. We should be able to go to work and feel like our ideas matter.

And even if our ideas, a bad idea, it’s welcomed because the bad ideas are often what, you know, build to the good ideas. So we need those bad ideas. You want bad ideas because they can be, they’re the ones that develop the truly disruptive ones. You make a great point too. If, uh, if people don’t feel safe, To take those risks.

They’re not going to put it out there. And as leaders, we need to realize when we might realize that we don’t have all the answers, but we need to help other people know that we’re comfortable not having all the answers. And I can’t remember the exact stat, but it. Be like no, no decision will ever have all the answers.

So part of being a leader is being able to make decisions based on the best available information. And being okay with the ambiguity that you don’t have all the answers and you just have to make the best decision in the moment for that. And when people are, when employees are comfortable with you and stepping into that space, and that comes across in spades, and you’ve mentioned psychological safety is that becomes the outcome.

People start. Open up and provide those ideas. And what’s the mentor of mine said you have to be comfortable being bad at something in order to be good at something down the road, because you’re never going to be great at something right away. So, yeah, that’s a, that’s a huge thing for leaders to get over is to step into, you know, what I’m getting when I open up and we do this creativity thing, we’re going to get lots of terrible ideas and that’s okay.

That’s in fact, a prerequisite for getting good ideas. Yeah. So true. And I think so many people, especially if they’ve reached the executive level or the professionals, they’re not used to doing something badly, spent, you know, potentially 10, 20, 30 years building your product. And it’s very uncomfortable to try something new.

And I love to say it’s very liberating to be bad at something on purpose and not. And that’s where creativity, like more traditional creativity is great. Like if you paint something and it’s the ugliest thing in the world, you could just laugh and be like, look how bad that is. But you know, you learn how to do it better the next time.

And you learn that skill of stepping into uncertainty and facing failure. And Tim you’re exactly right. I think about leaders who. Try to look like they have it all together. You know, they don’t, they don’t really model a, a safe environment. They have to model that and do it themselves. That we’re going to do things with the best knowledge that we have now.

And I think some people get really nervous about that and nervous about creativity, because it feels like chaos and those two rounds. Um, one of the things I’ve heard that really resonated with me is I think it was Teresa, Anna Beale, who is like one of the foremost creativity at work researchers. Her work is phenomenal.

She talked about, you’re not teaching, you’re not telling your team, which mountain deployments. You’re not letting them find any mountain. I’m probably paraphrasing this wrong, but the idea is you’re not telling them they can climb any mountain. You’re telling them which mountain decline, but you’re letting them climate in the way that they want to.

And that ownership and that autonomy over how to get there is exercising creativity, and it builds psychological safety. So it’s not just like every big climb, all these random mountains. It’s like, no, this is our mountain. So let’s figure out how to get there together. Yeah. And that comes back a bit to, uh, where we’re seeing a ton of this, the challenges around leadership right now with the pandemic and authenticity has been a really big one, uh, whether it’s just the type of communications that are going out and helping people really just see, you know what?

Yeah. The leaders might not have it all figured out, but they’re being genuine with us. And on the flip side, other people just standing up there and be like, yes, we’ve got it all covered. And meanwhile, everyone’s looking around going, it’s chaos around here. There’s no way you haven’t covered. And then if they’re lying about that or they’re so diluted about that, what else are they diluted about and what kind of leader are they?

Right. So I think it ends up being this counterintuitive effect. We have to look like we know what’s going on, but everybody can see right through that. It’s quite clear. You don’t know what’s going on. And then it makes you seem actually less of a leader in some ways. I think if you project that image, um, for creativity and leadership, one of the best books is.

Creative change by Jennifer Mueller. And she talks about leadership and she talks about how we promote leaders, but look a certain way, not because as effective leadership, but because that’s what we expect leaders to look like. So we’re like, we’re used to seeing leaders looking confident and have it altogether.

So therefore those are good leadership traits. It’s an unconscious bias. And the question is how do we change that bias around a false idea of what leadership looks like? Because people who become leaders, maybe no one intended to be like that, but we tend to do what we think is the right thing. I think everybody leaders to frontline employees, we all try to put this box around ourselves that meets the image of what we think people expect this.

And I think to your point about more authentic leadership and more authenticity is maybe not breaking the box altogether because you know, there’s certain like, you know, guidelines that we work around, but maybe like decorate your box a little bit, you know, like have a little bit more fun with it and try to be because that’s how you come up with different ideas.

If we have a bunch of cardboard boxes in a room, no one’s going to come up with a good idea. You need diversity, you need different experiences. You need deep differences in worldviews to get really creative. It. So, um, I think all of those points to leadership about trying to be this, this mask of what people are expecting you to be is something we need to get rid of all of.

That’s a great point is one of the reasons it’s strategic meetings, how often it happened, offsite. It’s like you put, you literally put yourself in a different environment because it changes your thought processes. Um, and be like walking around the block when you’re having a meal. The physical movement changes how your, how your brain thinks, and you will be more creative.

Like I routinely, when I’m out for bike rides or doing a workout outside, I, all these things pop into my head and then sometimes like, sit down and I like dictate a note into my phone because I’m like, oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. When you’re sitting at your desk staring at a screen, you don’t get that idea.

Why people get inspiration in the shower? Yeah, and I use those are great examples in the same way. And I do that. The dictation too, you’ll see comedians will carry a notebook around with them to like write down observations. And part of that is because we’re keeping our thinking analytical brain. That’s often stopping us from being creative.

We’re giving it something to do, but not so much to do that. All our focus focuses on it, but like going for a walk and moving your body, um, getting different. Things in the shower. You’re, you know, you have a task to do or driving. Some people say driving is another one. So we’re using our brain to kind of occupy that task, but it’s not taking over completely, just kind of distracting it.

And that allows our default mode network, which is the nerdy date way to say when you’re daydreaming, when the connections are happening in your brain, and we don’t know what’s happening. So. Not working. You think I’m being lazy or I’m not doing anything, but that’s when those ideas are germinating. Like when you go on your bike ride and that’s when things are happening in your brain that you don’t even recognize, or they’re not even conscious, but they pop an idea.

It’s like when people say they go to bed thinking about a problem, they wake up and poof the answers there. And then the next day, I mean, it’s not magic. It’s your brain. Like, ping-ponging it around inside your head to try to find a connection or an idea that works. Yeah. And you’re not sitting there like, okay, I need to really think of this creative idea.

Cause that just wrecks the whole process. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s two kinds of thinking there’s divergent and convergent and creative thinking. And so divergent is the daydreaming and the, how could, you know what a sky’s the limit congregation is not more like rigorous, you know, what is the right answer here?

And both of them are part of creativity. They’re both very important, but people try to do them at the same time. So they try to divert and Congress like, oh, that’s about idea. And what we need to do is separate them. So you did divert and really allow yourself to diverged. No bad answer. No, that idea sky’s the limit.

And then once you’ve done that, then you can converge and say, okay, what are the most likely ideas to be feasible? How can we move forward with whichever idea? And that is one of the key tricks to being creative anywhere, whether it’s a home or in the workplace is don’t try to. Edit your ideas as you’re creating them.

I mean, you’ve written a book, a lot of people say that with books, you know, it’s that, that, um, crappy first draft. Right. So just right, exactly. So, you know, what’s, what’s the edit your book as you write it, you’re just supposed to walk it out and then go back and edit it. Yeah. And so I love those thoughts and ideas and, and we probably I’d say most people are pretty familiar with those things that from various aspects of their life, but from a leaders in executive standpoint, how do we pull that together and say, okay, if we want to introduce creativity to our team and improve innovation or employee wellbeing, what does that look like in a typical corporate environment?

Yeah, that’s a great question because practically speaking, how do you do that? And I think I would go back to that Gallup study it’s so number one and expectation to be creative. Um, I spoke to, um, a business owner who says he starts at the interview process. And even when they apply. You know, they say you’re expected to be creative and sharing your ideas.

So I think having that as a corporate public, a part of your culture, a part of, you know, what your values are as a company is important, getting the time to be creative. And that is a really sticky one. So how do you assign time for creativity? Especially when people have different ways they engage their creativity.

Some seven out of 10 people in an Adobe study prefer to be creative or. Which is completely opposite to typical brainstorming session. Right? So how do we honor everybody’s individual need for how they express their creativity and give time without feeling wasting time? So, one of the things I’d like to talk about is in defensive basis.

Right. I go into companies and I talk about the benefits of daydreaming and I’m like, I’m, I’m worried. I’m going to get daggers shot at me through eyes from leadership. Like you can’t tell her employees to daydream, but if you want better ideas that, you know, some of the opposite things to traditional productivity is something we need to embrace.

So I think for a company that’s not doing anything, I think I’m starting small with just the expectation to be creative. Yeah. It comes from leadership. Like we talked about earlier, modeling the behavior, let’s try something, you know, what are the risks let’s mitigate the risks. Like let’s not completely change everything on its head, but how can we make a small incremental change and do something that is not going to hold the company, but it’s a bit of a risk that we can learn from.

And, um, and those are some ideas. I mean, Well, and one of the things I love about your approach and is that you say, Hey, like this doesn’t mean you have to like, do a BR a team building session where you’re paying finger paint and things like that. And like, you can just see all the tradition, like, you know, go into a law firm or something.

And people are like, come on. It’s. There’s so much of that out there is people have this mindset of creativity. It’s like, oh, I need to be doodling. Or I need to be finger painting, or I need to be, you know, a musician or something. And it’s really unique to each person

I was going to say, yeah, on that note, how, how, like, how do you talk to leaders and executives to help them really understand that more? Yeah, I think I go back to this idea of, um, for me, it’s a practice and it feels the same. So facing ambiguity and uncertainty, it’s really what leaders are struggling with a lot these days.

And they’re not getting people to come along with change or they’re struggling themselves with change. So part of it is an awareness around, um, when we’re feeling uncertain. They’ve done research to show that people who were exposed to like playing cards that have the wrong color. So like the hearts are black in some cases.

So they just like flash these, these card decks that people and one group had normal cards. And the other group had some of these cards that had the wrong color. And the important part is nobody recognize. And nobody noticed that the colors were wrong and they had asked them all of them about affirmative actions is probably about 15 year olds.

And then they get this, um, with the two different groups and the group that saw the cards with the wrong colors were much less likely to consider another person’s point of view. They were much more rigid in their stance and they were much less willing to consider another point of view with affirmative action.

So the point being that when we’re feeling uncertain, even if we don’t recognize we’re feeling and certainly it affects our judgment and our decisions. So if I were to say, one thing to your question about, about leadership is to try to get into this space of where you’re facing uncertainty. And you recognize how that feels, you know, to your work, working with, um, a lot of physical movement and going for walks.

When I’m like at the top of the ski run and it’s a little harder than I’m used to, or when I’m, my name is called to go on stage for stand up or I’m picking up the phone to make a difficult conversation, but I have the same physical sensations, you know, for me, it’s like, I feel like I’m bouncing on my feet a little bit.

I kind of feel like I want to shake my hands. I get like a tension in my face. And so if I’m, if I’m able to catch myself with that feeling, I can say, oh wait, wait a second. Like, something’s making me feel uncertain here. And then I. Become more mindful and big. I am right here in this moment. And like, I don’t need to worry about, you know, next quarter, some turns, I don’t need to worry about like what the employee is going to do.

I just need to like sit in this space of being uncertain right now. And I think if that practice is the one thing people can do, I think they’ll make better decisions and there’ll be able to take a step back and consider the options and be more creative in their options rather than jumping to those stats.

Post solutions that. Yeah, well, I guess there’s good news is there’s lots of practice about uncertainty right now.

Change is happening so fast and people, I don’t know what is going to look like or next week. I so some slack too, because I mean, it’s, it’s stressful. Like you had said, you know, people are, are tired and it’s very tiring, um, being an uncertainty all the time. So I think also giving ourselves a little bit of Bryce and not expecting that we’re going to be doing the exact same things in this environment.

They would live in a more stable environment. I think sometimes self-acceptance comes along with that vulnerability of leadership and, and psychological safety. Awesome. Yeah. And I think one of the other myths around creativity is people think it’s like willpower, that it’s a finite resource. Uh, w how, what can you speak to on that?

You mean, like, if I’m creative for an hour, then I have the work creativity that day. Is that what you mean? Or, yeah, like, it’s like, oh, it’s, I might use it up, or I don’t have much of it to begin with. And so, Um, no, I mean, that’s, the more you are creative, the more you become creative because it’s like a muscle you use, you know, you learn to stop that inner critic.

You learn to, um, it’s practice. You know, the people who speak out in meetings, the people who share their ideas that you think, wow, they’re bold, but didn’t just become that way. Like they’ve done that over practice and realizing that they shared this little idea. Oh, they didn’t get fired and nobody hated them.

So next time I’ll try a bigger idea. It’s all practice. So, uh, I think number one, everybody is creative. It’s a biological fact. Like it’s a neuroscientific fact. It’s like breeding. So that’s how I like to compare it. So, you know, to you probably talk about different breathing techniques, like box breathing and you know, ways to manage, um, anxiety with a breathing technique.

So creativity is the same way you already have creativity, just like you already know how to. But there’s environments that can help promote your creativity and let you express your own creativity more fully and completely. And I think the number one barrier is usually fear of judgment from yourself or from other people.

Yeah. Going back to that Gallup study, that expectation to be creative. So if someone’s in a call it non traditional environment where there’s an expectation that you’re not going to be creative and people, someone feels that they’re not able to express themselves in that way. What are some things they can do there?

And they don’t feel they’re free to take risks. Yeah. Quick, quick. You mean it like you’re the employee and your, your managers aren’t really promoting this idea of being pre. Yeah. Well, I think, you know, I think for people who are concerned about creativity, some of that is I in my, this is all for my opinion, not for many beta, but I feel like.

And that’s the case. You kind of need to ask forgiveness before you ask permission. So I think that if you try some things and then you show, you know, that, that in many cases there’s a positive return might be a tiny, incremental thing that is different, but still within the framework of the expected norms of the company, then I think that that can really help because then the thing is creativity is contagious.

You know, when I opened a jewelry business, I was nervous to tell my backpack. ’cause I thought, I thought they would think it was weird and some of them did, but most people would come back to me a few months later and say, you know, I thought it was kind of cool. You did that joke. I thought it was weird, but I thought it was kind of cool.

You did that jewelry business. And so then I did that thing I haven’t done for years, you know, it really, it really becomes contagious. So if you have somebody who’s feeling like they want to make small creative changes, it will naturally motivate other people to do this. Absolutely. Yeah. Like you said, the, the freedom to take risks.

If, if someone’s fearing taking, taking a risk, just doing it will help them realize that that fear is probably not as warranted. And if they do get fired for taking his small risks, then probably wasn’t the right situation anyway. So true. And you know, everyone’s seen a situation like sometimes it’s helpful.

So in one of my, like my very first kind of corporate job, um, we were doing a presentation and it was a very, um, very important client to large group of people. And I was doing, I suggested doing something a little bit different. We did this kind of choose your own adventure kind of thing. It was really fun.

I was excited to do it, but I was kind of clueless. And one of my co presenters at the beginning was super nervous. And he said, what if, what we’re presenting, doesn’t align with what they want to do as a company. Um, you know, the cluelessness and me, which is also sometimes helpful for creativity. If you’ve ever met a Tinder.

You know, that’s why there are creatives. Cause I clueless. I was like, oh, it never really occurred to me. I was just like, let’s do something fun that you know, is important for the strategy that will help give them the information they need to use or like the reasons it’s strategies behind it. But the thought.

You know, it would go counter to what, like, I hadn’t even considered that. So it was kind of nice to be clueless. So sometimes, you know, feigning ignorance is a good strategy with productivity. Absolutely. Well, and the, on the one thing you had alluded to in that Gallup study was the time to be creative and that most companies don’t allocate time for employees to whether it’s daydreaming or, uh, At least for me, the most common example of that is Google’s 20% time or whatever, 10% time I can’t remember think of, I think it’s 20%.

Whereas one day of the week, they, people can work on whatever they want to work on. Whether it’s a hobby, a charity. Some piece of coding that they wanted to do. And I think that’s a pretty extreme example for, um, in a more traditional company, but, you know, one day a month or an afternoon, a month to work on something like that might be.

Yeah, and it doesn’t even have to be, like you said, Google and 3m was another one that was famous, famous for innovation that used to do that. Um, allowed people to work on projects, but I think a lot of it, and you go back to like, when Steve jobs, um, open pay, like manage Pixar, he only had one washroom in the middle of the building, so everybody had to use the same washroom.

And so I think, um, one of the key drivers of pre today’s cross-functional collaborations. And we’re seeing that in the global push towards open talent and open innovation where companies will find somebody with a very specific niche expertise in something and just hire them for like a very short amount of time, or they’ll put out a bid for like, we want to know the best way to like keep hamburgers warm, and then companies will like compete.

And then whoever wins gets, you know, a large amount, a large prize. So, um, when I’m going with that, and also there’s companies where. Experts like a Google or a different company and go and be. Yes and classrooms and they can share their expertise. So I think that there would be definitely a place to improve, increase this cross functional collaboration by allowing employees a small amount, whatever, you know, you can start with as a company, but to try to get them even doing like different things with different, um, different groups or universities or.

Use their expertise to share with other people and vice versa. Um, I interviewed a fellow, um, who works at NASA and he was saying this company for years and years and years, couldn’t figure out this one little piece of some biomedical company. And they put out one of these open talent calls and two people separately that didn’t know each other had the solution, but they’d been working on for years and years.

So I think to think that our company has all the expertise as technology advances so rapidly is, is, is not, it’s not sustainable. Like we have to know that we can share our expertise, but also then get it from other people and be a little bit more, um, wide in our net for searching for the answers. Yeah.

And would you say the work from home situation that remote work has. Hindered or fostered creative. Oh, that’s a big question, Jim. I haven’t had anyone ask me that question before. One of the, um, when they talk about how do you make your space creative? One of the things is if you personalize your workstation, it can increase your creativity by 20 or 30%.

So what’s more personal in your. So I think from that standpoint, definitely it would improve creativity. I think the challenges I was listening to one of your podcasts with Michelle Berg and how she was saying that during the pandemic, there’s so many more meetings because people are home. And I think that would be a hindrance to creativity because we don’t have that.

Time that we’re walking to the coffee shop or where we’re going and going to the bathroom. And we just run into somebody to chat. Um, you know, for the people like me, we’re taking walks and taking those breaks. If that happens, maybe it would be more conducive. So I think it probably really depends on the individual and how they’re managing their time at home.

And probably one of their commitments they have, whether it be like care caregivers, um, or, you know, other responsibilities that they have.

Well, I was going to say too, there there’s arguments on both sides. Like a lot of people say the water cooler talk that, that just, um, impromptu connections with coworkers doesn’t happen as much in the remote side. But then on the flip side where you had mentioned cross cross-functional collaboration, I think there are.

Many more opportunities now in a, to just have a couple of people pop onto a meeting that might not normally attend a meeting because maybe they’re in a different building or a different country, even, um, different city, if you’re a large organization. And so these are things that can easily be incorporated to add new perspectives, um, as, as well, we, we also get, there’s been a lot of commentary about.

Um, seeing people’s homes and, uh, uh, so you get especially, uh, cultural differences and that might be downplayed in the office, but now you’re on zoom and you’re seeing into people’s homes. And so you get a different perspective and you’re able to embrace. That they’re living from a different perspective and they have different ideas.

So you might be more open to that. Yeah. That’s a great point about the cultural differences, because that’s one of the key drivers of creativity. And so if you show up at work, trying to be in that box, people don’t re you know, you maybe don’t share, you know, the different cultural things that you do or different practices.

And now that we’re virtual people are seeing that and you don’t have a choice, but to share it and then you’re potentially failing, but you really. You’re not failing that people are interested in, they’re connecting on things that they wouldn’t otherwise connect on, whereas at the water everyone’s in their suit and like in work mode.

Right. So I think that’s a really good point and that would be a really strong driver of creativity for sure. Cool. So if you had to sum it up, what would you say are the top two or three things that companies can do to really. Put themselves on a more creative trajectory and, you know, go back to the Gallup things expectation.

How do we, how do we set that expectation? Yeah. Yeah. I think it happens ideally from the beginning, from the, from the job ad to the interview to all the way through management and, and the vision and values of the company, which I get, it’s not like a quick fix for a lot of things, but I think it’s hard.

And I think, um, you know, like you had said before about it has to come from the leaders and they have to model. So if my manager is being told, you need to help people be creative and give them expectations to be creative and freedom to take risks. But if you don’t do it right, then, you know, you’re not going to get your bonus or, you know that, so that, I mean, that’s not going to work.

So it has to start, I think, at the top of the modeling for people to say, oh, I guess it’s okay for me to, um, to do that because the leader did that and it was okay. And they’re showing. And that that comes with vulnerability because you know, you’re in that expression with, uh, kids. Don’t do what you say.

They do, what you do. So I feel like it’s kinda like that. Like, you can’t have a leader saying you can fail and take risks, but then, you know, they’re like, absolutely, we cannot have this, you, whatever, you know, like you have to be vulnerable yourself and say, you know, look what I did. And you know, not to share your deepest, darkest secrets, but for a leader to say, you know, we tried something, we thought it would work.

It didn’t really work, you know, that’s okay. We’re going to change what we learn from it. Yeah. Yeah. So you can only make mistakes that turn out well in the end. But if there’s a word for that, where you judge your, you judge your decision by the outcome, not by what you had said before, what you knew at the time, we tend to judge our decision by what we know now versus what we actually knew when we made this.

Yeah. Yeah. I’m trying to remember where I heard that. Yeah. That’s that’s a good point to remember. Yeah.

I’m notorious for that. Like I heard this somewhere. I think it was like this and it doesn’t mean. It’s crazy because I’ll say something like, uh, the last person in the last worm last, last or something. And they’re like that doesn’t even make sense.

I’ll mix my idioms and they’ll be like, it doesn’t make sense. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. It’s been awesome. I’ve loved hearing about all the different. Outlets and avenues for being creative, but also how companies can, can implement it. Where can people find out more about the creativity, the sessions you speak on?

Uh, you have a book coming out, like where can we find out about all this? Thanks Tammy. I am writing a book, a big creative adventure in facing ambiguity. Um, the book is called the reluctant creative, uh, five effortless habits to, uh, expand your comfort zone. So, um, that’s coming out, hopefully in December and information will be I’m on LinkedIn.

Also, I’ve got a website, Caroline brookfield.com. And I would love to read the, this idea and this challenge to companies to say, you know, up to 80% of people are talking about leaving their jobs this year. And creative employees are half as likely to be leaving a job. And only 18% of people, like we said, feel like they can take the risks to be creative.

And to me that is the low-hanging fruit for the next five to 10 years is finding that magical way to help employees feel safe and creative. And as a by-product, you’ll get better wellbeing and resilience and, but it, it feels risky. So, you know, I, I really appreciate the time to have this amazing conversation with you and hear your perspective on creativity and hope.

Find a help for your own. Absolutely. Thank you. And going back again to what we said at the beginning, that embracing the definition of creativity, not no finger painting involved. The finger painting you a macrame. You can do it in Excel. Exactly. No, uh, uh, scenes from ghost, Mr. Clay, pottery making, not that those things are bad.

You can, if that’s your thing, go for it, but you don’t have to even just cooking gardening. You know, um, decorating, choosing your outfits, you know, going shopping for earrings. Like those are all things that are creative, even though it might not be you actually making them, you’re putting them together and creating something from your imagination and from your heart, which I think is where.

Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much. And we will definitely be in touch and, uh, I will make sure people have the connection to your website and thank you again for everything. We will see very soon.

Thank you for listening to the working well podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don’t forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your experiences and how you’ve applied tips from the show to your daily life. So please keep us posted on your progress to stay up to date with new episode releases, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list by emailing podcast@freshgroup.ca and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Thank you. Everyone for tuning in. And once again, I’m Tim Boris with fresh wellness group. We’ll see you on the next episode.

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