Sometimes it takes a bit of crisis to usher in a fresh wave of creativity into a place that is insular and prone to inertia. Here is a story of how the global economic crisis has perhaps brought a fresh, creative air to the managers of Canadian Heritage, a branch of the Canadian government that oversees the arts, culture, and media. Although overwhelmingly conservative by nature, Linda Naiman, owner of Creativity and Work, instructed the managers to think like artists. Read on to see how creative innovation is penetrating even the most entrenched of government institutions:
The signs were clear. A staggering deficit. A probable Conservative majority. Funding cuts to the arts were certain. Two questions remained: How significant the cuts? And, how to cope?
Managers at Canadian Heritage knew they were going to need some creative ideas to guide them through the coming transition. So they called Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work.
Ms. Naiman’s business card sports the title “corporate alchemist,” but the former advertising designer is better described as an expert in fostering creativity in the workplace. “[Canadian Heritage] was anticipating massive cutbacks,” she recalls, skimming through documents she prepared for the department’s seminars last year. “They specifically wanted a session on creativity, resilience and navigating change. To be resilient in times of transition, you need improvisational skills, resourcefulness − all those things that are part of being creative.”
As the stereotype goes, government bureaucracy is the antithesis of creativity. Yet, in times of austerity, creative thinking is badly needed. “Our country is getting older,” says Darren Dahl, who researches and teaches creativity at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. “We need more health care. We need to improve education. We have this huge challenge of the environment. We need to do more with less.”
Of course, stereotypes, however imprecise, often hint at truth. “It can be tougher to be creative in the public sector because public organizations are conservative by nature,” says Dr. Dahl. “We’re most creative when we’re forced to be. People say the public sector isn’t as creative as corporations because it isn’t subject to the same constraints; it doesn’t have to turn a profit.”
Could subjecting the public sector to the constraints of budget cuts stimulate creativity? How can public sector organizations encourage the type of creativity that could solve these daunting problems?
Go here for the full article, “How budget cuts could kick-start creativity in the public sector”