The Collective Vision

In a recent edition of the Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile published an article that detailed how persons in leadership and management positions can help to foster creativity in their staff.  Creativity and the Role of the Leader offers insight into the nature of creativity, how it must grow organically and from all directions and what it needs to truly be successful force in the workplace. 

When I first began my career in PR, I was worried I would feel unimaginative in my day to day duties and tasks.  I had just finished a degree and several internships and associate positions in public policy and while there were pieces of it that I just loved, it didn’t ignite the type of creative and productive thinking that I craved when it came to my career.  They say that it takes some time to find your groove, your niche, your raison d’etre within your specific job description.  I’m sure many people never discover it.  But my ability to tap into that previously unchartered creative brain I’d been harboring for the past six or more years – it has been unleashed not in spite of my job, but because of it.

New ideas spark change.  That isn’t a revolutionary concept at all – except it is a commonly held belief in many compaines that new ideas are best produced at the top-level and trickled down to the rest of the group.  These organizations are structured so that the best ideas and the most creatively-minded people sit at the top, while those at the bottom perform the menial tasks that require little to no vision.   Does this work?  In my comparatively short time in the professional world, my belief is that it does not.  I suppose I’m not alone – Amabile lists one of the top roles of a leader in an organization to be the ability to “engage the right people, at the right times, to the right degree in creative work. That engagement starts when the leader recasts the role of employees. Rather than simply roll up their sleeves and execute top-down strategy, employees must contribute imagination”

Google has espoused this principle from day 1 – the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts have to establish their own voice.  Their own vision, ideas, imaginative means to move themselves (and by association the company) forward.  The creative juices that come from every member of the Google team have contributed to its extraordinary growth and success in the last 10 years.   While founder Larry Page was the pinnacle from which all of the company’s subsequent structure was built under, it certainly takes more than one concept to build a mountain of success. 

Change may begin with one but grows with many.  As Amabile points out, “Optimism takes hold when a vision of something truly different is made to seem more promising than the status quo.”

Posted by: Ashley

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