Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Novelty Stimulates Curiosity and Creativity

Source: Blue Diamond Gallery
If you want to encourage creativity, exploration, and learning on your team, you should think carefully about how to introduce and provide novel experiences. Scientists Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel have shown that the brain responds to novel stimuli in a manner that increases exploration and learning. 

As a leader, you can provide new stimulating experiences for your employees through travel, reading, training, or a challenging new assignment.    You might ask them to join a new cross-functional project team, or work on developing a new skill.   You could ask them to study a new technical issue or explore a geographic market of which they have little prior knowledge.  

Novelty may not pay dividends overnight, but it will stir the creative juices over time.  Of course, you will have to warn your team members:  novel exploration and learning can be disconcerting, challenging, and unsettling at times.  At advertising agency WPP,  executive Tor Myhren once banned meetings for three hours on one morning each week.  He wanted time for people to work on issues that might otherwise get pushed aside by the day-to-day grind of meetings and schedules.  Gina Sclafani, one of his employees, noted that she was excited initially about this time to explore new ideas.  Then, she realized that it was very difficult to move outside of her comfort zone.  However, she found this uncomfortable process of inquiry and discovery to be very beneficial over the long run.    No pain, no gain... of course! 

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