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How to Unleash Creativity at Work

Ahscholars do not Compete to write the most interesting research paper of the year. But now Yu Tse Heng of the University of Virginia, Christopher Barnes of the University of Washington and Kai Chi Yam of the National University of Singapore should bow. In a study published in 2022, the trio tested the widely held notion that cannabis boosts creativity.

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Researchers recruited recreational drug-taking Americans and asked them to take a standardized test of creativity (from thinking about novel uses for bricks to coming up with money-spinning ideas for music bands). up to). Some participants were tested immediately after ingesting cannabis. The control group did so only if he had 12 hours since his last indulgence. An independent evaluator rated the ideas for innovativeness.

Researchers have found that cannabis is thought to increase playfulness in users and encourage lateral thinking. Drug use also led people to value their own creativity and that of other participants more highly. The problem is that independent evaluators have failed to discern an effect on the actual quality of people’s thoughts. I officially found out. “Leaders may want employees to be sober, especially while evaluating ideas,” is one of the acerbic conclusions of the paper.

You might think it goes without saying. But the quest for ways to unleash creativity seems to confuse executive minds. Interest in using psychedelics in the workplace is growing. This is being done not just as a health care perk, but also as a way to inspire innovative thinking. please takeA study published last year in Naturea scientific journal tested the effects of taking low doses of psilocybin and came to similar conclusions to the cannabis paper. There is not much evidence to suggest that

Drug use is an extreme example of a range of techniques aimed at pushing people toward more innovative thinking. There are certain exercises designed to encourage “divergent thinking,” like sketching the person next to you or designing a unique sandwich (what about tripe and a dash of sour grapes?). There are team building activities ranging from dish spinning and karaoke to escape rooms and fire walking (safety warning: if you get brain waves during this exercise, never write them down).

And then there’s the almost universal obsession with turning parts of the office into playrooms. Light colored furniture, hammocks, chalkboards, chairs too high off the ground for adults. The idea is that the use of unconventional spaces can inspire innovative thinking. But a lot depends on the task at hand.

An experiment conducted by Manuel Sosa inside Sanky Lee of the Business School and Carnegie Mellon University gave participants a piece of paper with 40 circles on it and asked them to draw a real-world object containing the shape. People placed in unconventional workspaces performed worse than those in bog standard offices. This is because they have developed an obsession with nearby circular objects (in this environment they outperformed people in cubicles on tests that were unaffected by their surroundings). road).

Group activities definitely have their place. It’s called hell. But desperate efforts to provoke creativity can be self-defeating. This is the same as telling yourself that you have to sleep and you can’t sleep. There is a lot of evidence that doing nothing is the better option. Letting your mind wander is a great way to unlock great ideas. Renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin showered several times a day as a way to avoid writer’s block.

Boredom itself can be a useful stimulus for inspiration. A study published in 2013 found that people who copied or simply read a phone number before taking a creative test performed better than those who didn’t. Boredom, as Friedrich Nietzsche conceived it, is the unpleasant “windless stillness” of the soul that precedes happy voyages and cheerful breezes. Young Agatha Christie agrees, nothing is more boring than writing. With Beanbags, Legos and Zoot, we could have accomplished so much more. Or maybe the creativity is a little less formulaic than that.

Read more from management and work columnist Bartleby:
How to have the most productive day of your life (January 4th)
How to get the most out of LinkedIn (December 20th)
The enduring value of analog technology (December 15th)

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https://www.economist.com/business/2023/01/12/how-to-unlock-creativity-in-the-workplace How to Unleash Creativity at Work

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