Creativity and Motivation – Traits From Within

IntroductionThe “entrepreneur” is one who creates a new business in the hopes of making a profit. If this is a valid definition of the term, then it is essential that businesses today utilize “entrepreneurial skills” in order to compete against rival corporations and small businesses that have become an even greater threat than before.Akio Morita is known to have said that initially Sony had three years of competitive-free sales before a rival came up with a product that bit into their margin but near his retirement, that “window” had changed from three years to three months. As the time to market is decreasing rapidly due to the increase of global competition and other powerful market forces, companies can no longer follow their traditional ways of product development. All businesses that wish to do more than just survive must think like the entrepreneur.Listen to marketersMarketers know that it takes a tremendous amount of time, money and effort to create new customers compared with keeping current customers. They know that their most valuable asset is the customer they already have. Following this logic, does it make sense to invest a huge amount of time and money to hire on a bunch of “avant-garde” thinkers to create explosively innovative products and services when the resource may already be within the company’s ranks? Can businesses in these lean times afford to do so? I do not think so. Those that are best suited to create new and valuable products which are in harmony with the business plan and goals are those that are already in the system; the employees.It doesn’t end with creativityEntrepreneurism does not end with creativity. Many people can create amazing concepts. Those concepts then need to be turned into products and services which meet the needs of the market and are PROFITABLE for the organization. What good is an idea with no reality? It has little value. In order to succeed, organizations must have the creativity as well as the ability to act upon that creativity in order to bring ideas to market profitably. This is the power of the successful entrepreneur.Valuable traitsWhat kind of traits do these individuals usually possess? The entrepreneur is often seen to possess a:·Desire for responsibility·Preference for moderate risk·Confidence in own ability to succeed·Desire for immediate feedback·High levels of energy·Future orientation·Skill at organization·Ability to see value in achievement over moneyIf companies want employees to possess these kind of traits, they need to develop the environment that fosters such. How can they do this? I believe that if we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we can find the answer.Up your hierarchy!Not everyone agrees with Maslow and his hierarchy of needs which states that every individual must have certain needs met before they can move up the hierarchy to the next level. To me, it makes perfect sense. We can look around the world at the starving countries and ask ourselves, “why do they pollute so badly? Why don’t they care about the world?” The answer is that they are too busy trying to survive to think beyond. Once those survival needs are met, they can progress to looking at the world differently.At the highest level of the hierarchy is self-awareness. Once employees have their basic needs, and other intrinsic needs met, they are able to begin to think beyond what they “want” and focus on other aspects. This is where creativity comes into play. We all know that extrinsic motivation rarely lasts forever. Look at weight loss clinics and network marketing as two good examples. After the top people give their pep talks, everyone is pumped. When they all return to their normal world, that motivation disappears. Look, however to those people that are motivated from inside themselves; they are the creators, the individuals that can come up with the most amazing things.Reward is a key criterionCompanies need to create the environment that empowers the worker to that higher level so that they feel they are important in the organization. When they have self-worth, and confidence, when they are rewarded for their efforts, then the creativity will flow from the intrinsic motivation. Eisenberger and Shanock have shown that “when individuals believe they can obtain rewards by being creative, they become more creative. The expectation that creativity will be rewarded causes individuals to define the task as requiring creativity, to become immersed in it, and to search for novel ways of carrying it out.” 1By providing the tools required to get the job done, education to enhance thought processes, empowering workers to produce excellence and rewarding them for doing so, employers will not only develop their own employees abilities to create, they will improve their competitive advantage in the market by increasing the invaluable asset known as knowledge. By instilling in employees a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom they will further enhance a creative orientation. 2Creative tension is a key criterionIn addition to this, by fostering a creative tension that is not based on emotional or anxious pressures, people will begin to see the gap between what they want to get done, and the reality of the situation. They will then be able to focus on the gap utilizing energy to make it smaller until goals, visions and reality converge. From this creative tension will flow the motivation. Companies must foster this kind of environment. 3ConclusionIf organizations want to succeed and excel at global competition, they need to push their employees to challenge conventional wisdom, and give them the tools and the autonomy to test out their non-conventional ideas. Thinking they need to go on a “search for creativity and intrinsic motivation” will hinder their need for speed. Instead of looking for these abilities, they should implement the tools and adjust the environment to empower the employees to develop creativity and intrinsic motivation from within.References1. Eisenberger, R., & Shanock, L. ‘Rewards, Intrinsic Motivation, and Creativity: A Case Study of Conceptual and Methodological Isolation.’ Creativity Research Journal, 15, 121-130, 2003. (no longer available online)2. Feynman, R. P. ‘The pleasure of finding things out: The best short works of Richard P. Feynman.’ Cambridge, MA: Perseus 1999.3. Lori Reisenbichler, ‘Creative Tension: A Crucial Component of Creativity in the Workplace’, Center for Collaborative Organizations , University of North Texas. 2005/10/27. Retrieved from: http://www.workteams.unt.edu/literature/paper-lreisenb.html.