Tapping Creativity in Others

By DeLellis, Anthony J. | Training & Development, November 1991 | Go to article overview

Tapping Creativity in Others


DeLellis, Anthony J., Training & Development


Many people think that creative people are born, not made. But bringing out creativity in others is a skill that anyone can learn. Managers and supervisors can discover how to tap the creativity in their employees by participating in a creativity workshop.

The workshop draws on the experiences of managers who have been successful in getting their employees to be more creative. Their experiences establish a baseline of information for the workshop. The objective is to get the manager/participants to specifically define, through structured discussion, the traits and behaviors that bring out creativity in others.

Unlike some creativity workshops and seminars, there's no tent-revival atmosphere. There's no pep talk. There's no lecture. The workshop doesn't center around a facilitator. It's designed to encourage participants to examine their own traits and behaviors and the traits and behaviors of others. They also scrutinize their organization's climate for creativity.

In the workshop, participants

* establish individual, functional definitions of creativity

* recall examples of managers they've known who brought out creativity in others

* reach a group consensus on what traits and behaviors brings out creativity in others

* compare their own traits and behaviors to the ones in the consensus

* compare the traits and behaviors of their supervisors to the ones in the consensus.

* speculate on how their employees might rate them on the consensus traits and behaviors

* explore ways to improve their individual performances on bringing out creativity in others

* examine their organization's creative climate.

The workshop consists of two participant sessions and one period during which the facilitator works apart from the participants.

In Session 1, participants progress from constructing individual definitions of creativity to forming a group consensus. The group determines and agrees on the traits and behaviors that are instrumental to bringing out creativity in others. The facilitator's main role is to compile the participants' opinions.

In Session 2, the participants measure their own and their supervisors' performances in relation to the agreed-upon traits and behaviors. Participants then speculate about what their employees might say about their own performances regarding those same factors.

Session 1

In the first session of the workshop, the facilitator makes a brief introduction and leads the participants in performing four tasks.

The introduction should exclude any information that might squelch spontaneity. The facilitator shouldn't try to define creativity or discuss managing creativity.

The facilitator encourages participants to recall their experiences with creative people. He or she informs them that by the time they complete the workshop, they'll understand the nature of creativity and how they can bring it out in others.

Task 1: 12 minutes

In the first of the fourt tasks that make up Session 1, the facilitator asks each participant to describe two creative people. The participants aren't restricted to describing managers or formal leaders. Each participant, working alone, writes on a prepared sheet. (See the box, "Describing Two Creative People.")

The instructions are designed to get participants of focus on their perceptions of the creative people they describe. Most participants list traits and behaviors on the sheet.

Task 2: 20 minutes

This exercise offers participants the opportunity to explore the ways in which people bring out creativity in others. In Task 1, each participant generated his or her own functional definition of creativity. In Task 2, participants consider how managers can bring out creativity in employees.

Participants use a sheet that's identical to the one used in the first task (see the box), except that the spaces for the descriptions are labeled Manager A and Manager B instead of Person A and Person B. …

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