The Next Jump blog is a look into the culture of a company that believes corporations can change the world.
Creativity in the Workplace
Jennifer Hallam
12 Jan

Next Jump was lucky enough to have art expert Jennifer Hallam (@jlhallam) help setup up an initiative within the company for promoting arts and creativity in the workplace. We call it Next Jump Arts, and we have several stations around the office where employees can use materials to sketch, sculpt, paint and more. Jennifer gave Next Jump an intro to watercolor painting, as well as a quick lesson on creativity. She shared with us some of her thoughts on creativity below.

Jennifer Hallam at NxJ Arts Night

I’ve often worked at places where the “creatives” —the artists, the designers, the writers, the makers—have been distinguished from everyone else. But there’s no reason all of us shouldn’t bring creativity to our work. In fact, there’s every reason why we should. Creativity is the key to innovation, problem-solving, and expanded perception. It helps us communicate, empathize, and grow.

To be a “Creative”, you don’t have to keep colored markers on your desk, own a Mac, or wear interesting color combinations. These are just a few of many ways that creativity is expressed. The important thing about being creative is how you think.

What does creative thinking mean? It means viewing things from new perspectives, breaking out of established patterns, and coming up with new possibilities.

Every one of us has the potential to think creatively and apply that thinking to our work, no matter what our job description.

So how can you tap into that potential and make the most of it?

  1. OVERCOME YOUR FEARS

    The number one thing we need to do to embrace our creativity is overcome our fears. Creativity requires us to challenge norms, break rules, try new things, make mistakes, accept the unpredictable, and open ourselves up to the judgment of others. Taking these kinds of risks can be scary. But they are also the things that can lead to our greatest successes. If you work at Next Jump, you’re lucky. You’re already in an environment that supports creative thinking by encouraging experimentation, learning, and feedback. Take advantage of it!

  2. USE TECHNIQUES TO CULTIVATE CREATIVE THINKING

    Most of us are creatures of habit. There are ways that we do things and they seem to work just fine (or even okay) and so we keep doing them. This goes for our thinking as well. If we are used to thinking inside the box, it’s easy to forget that there’s an outside the box…let alone to wonder about what would happen if we got rid of the box all together! Fortunately, it’s never too late to reawaken and stretch our creative minds and there are plenty of resources out there that can help us do it. SCAMPER, an acronym developed by Bob Eberle in the 1970s, is an especially useful technique for brainstorming new ideas or new approaches. Having a problem at work? Use this variation on SCAMPER to come up with a creative solution.

  3. PRACTICE

    Some people think of creativity as something that you need to set aside time for. But you don’t set aside time for being logical do you? Creativity is a way of thinking and it can happen all the time. But creative thinking takes practice. Like most things, the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Eventually, being creative will become your natural state.

  4. SHARE YOUR IDEAS

    This point goes back to the first—fear. Many of us don’t share our creative ideas for fear of being criticized, made fun of, or rejected. But an idea that stays in your head is almost always an unfinished one. When you share your ideas, no matter how crazy you may think they are, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to get feedback that could make the idea better or push it in a new direction. You’re also helping to spark creative thinking in others. Even if your idea doesn’t work, it could be the springboard that someone else needed. Creativity thrives on conversation and collaboration.

  5. CREATE

    The word “creative” has its root in the Latin “creare”, meaning “to make, bring forth, or produce.” In other words, creativity is as much about doing as it is about thinking. So go put your ideas into action. Before you know it, you’ll be calling yourself a “Creative.”

Jenn Hallam is a Ph.D. in Art History and a media producer in real life. You can follow her and her current projects on Twitter:

@jlhallam (Jenn)

@WIMOdoc (Documentary film on transgender teenagers)

@PEOPLEROCKMUSIC (Educational media for kids)

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