I have written before about conditions for creativity and recently have revisited this theme. This morning I was reading a blog written on the subject of innovation and its importance for the future

This refers to a study by PwC which found that 78% of CEOs surveyed believe innovation will generate “significant” new revenue and cost reduction opportunities over the next three years.

One interesting point in this article was the mention of the importance of creating a culture around innovation. This is an area I have also written on and it brings me back to the conditions for creativity to happen. I am taking creativity here to be an important prerequisite of innovation.

We can look at conditions for creativity as an organisational issue and also as an individual issue.

Here I want to focus on individual conditions for creativity.  Jane Henry, one of the authors of the Open University Business School module, Creativity, Innovation and Change, on which I tutor, claims that the 4 Ps are important as conditions for creativity.

These are:

  • Positivity
  • Playfulness
  • Passion
  • Persistence

Today I would like to focus on the first of these Positivity, which is defined here as:

an attitude of mind, one that sees even a bad situation as an opportunity for learning rather than a failure or terrible trial; in essence positivity entails looking for and working with opportunity rather than focusing on failings and problems. This requires sufficient tolerance to accept your own and others’ failings.

For me positivity is about seeing opportunity and having hope, even when things do not look so good. The half full versus half empty example is a useful metaphor here.

When we are positive we are open and we see opportunities that when we are not being positive can be overlooked.

There is another important consideration here and this is the impact that our attitude has upon our demeanour. When we are positive we smile, we stand and walk more upright, we engage with others and we exude confidence. This impacts upon everyone we encounter–we feel confident and happy and our encounters reflect this back to us, so the feeling is enhanced. Equally the opposite can occur, when we are negative this can become a downward spiral and either way this can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy.

So what to do if inside we are not feeling positive but need to in order to face a possible opportunity. Act it out. Play at being positive, put on a smile, put on clothes that make you feel good, and then act the part. Surprisingly you will soon develop a more positive approach and it will stop being an act.

As a leader here are 5 important actions which can be taken.

  1. Encourage people to become more positive, encourage  a debate of ‘yes and’ rather than ‘yes but’
  2. Use mistakes as learning opportunities
  3. Adopt a coaching approach to empower people to think more positively
  4. Accept other ideas and encourage them to develop these
  5. Develop a climate around tolerance of others

Perhaps you can add to this list of actions for leaders?

Do you have a story to share about opportunity happening when being positive?