Statistics suggests that productivity is steadily increasing in the working environment today, but this increase in productivity appears to be at the expense of creativity. In order for innovation to occur within business, there is a need for creative persons who are allowed the freedom to work in an environment that recognises the importance of their abilities. It appears that this requirement is gradually becoming extinct.
Xerox PARC was a renowned centre of creativity in the early days of Silicon Valley. It is a company notable for its many technological advances, such as laser printing and precursors to modern computer systems. It is the perfect example of what can be achieved when creativity is encouraged.
Listed below are a number of key factors that are necessary for creativity to flourish in the workplace.
Thinking outside of the box
The education system in its current guise does not encourage creativity. Results are down in the mathematical and science subjects and there appears to be no encouragement for students to show expertise in such areas. Being intelligent is not enough though, it must be combined with creativity. The employees of PARC were given the opportunities to broaden their horizons by consistently being provided with new information and, combined with their own natural intelligence, these circumstances led to a wide number of innovations in a short space of time.
In modern business, the goal is often to achieve immediate success without allowing the company to learn its trade and provide a meaningful service. Robert Bauer joined PARC not long after its launch and remained with the company for over 30 years. He has gone on record as stating that “My research has shown that people are most creative when they are on a mission, intrinsically motivated by a love for what they are doing.”
Bauer was able to remain in his role for such a long period of time due to the stimulation and challenges that were part of his day-to-day working life. He worked hard because he was passionate for his work and this was demonstrated by his considerable output. It is the demise of this passion that appears to be one of the factors affecting the lack of innovation and enthusiasm shown by many in business at the moment.
Creating an atmosphere
In the current financial climate creativity is often the first thing to be set aside by a struggling business in order to survive. Hard work is valued more than innovation, which is often considered to be superfluous to the needs of the company. This is almost the complete opposite of the working environment encouraged by the team at PARC. Two of the founders of PARC, George Pake and Bob Taylor, focused on building a working environment that encouraged creativity and ensured that their employees were given the opportunity and the time to focus on their specific goals.
Many of the successful creative firms today can be said to be following in PARC’s footsteps, with successful enterprises such as Pixar leading the way. However, it is difficult to see future enterprises being willing to follow in PARC’s footsteps as the motivation of business changes.