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Three ways to foster a creative environment where ideas are vital

To strive, jazz musicians must become much more entrepreneurial, imaginative and foster a creative environment to play jazz for a living. There is much that business can learn from this, says professional bassist Gerald J Leonard

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein

Symphonies are not like jazz bands. This may seem like an obvious statement, but I am referring to the creative environment of a symphony. Most of the symphonies that exist in the world today have been around for many years. How do they stay relevant, fresh, and therefore funded?

The conductor and the board have to consider these questions every year when they develop a symphony season. They have to anticipate what the donors and audiences desire. The conductor has to listen to other orchestras, contemplate new music and maybe work with composers to commission new pieces.

On the other hand a jazz band has much more flexibility in its repertoire, unlike a symphony, where the conductor and board members decide the music for the musicians to perform. A jazz ensemble is much more like a self-organizing agile team that has to develop its repertoire, select venues to perform in and build a following based on its marketing efforts. They base their actions on feedback directly from the audience and foster a creative environment to flourish. To strive, jazz musicians must become much more entrepreneurial, imaginative and foster a creative environment to play jazz for a living.

Three ways to foster a creative environment

• Be clear about your organization’s and team’s purpose.

• Leverage innovative ideas from other industries and experiment.

• Change conditions in the environment and collaborate.

1. Be clear about your organization’s or team’s purpose

An organization’s purpose is like values and best practices; they have to be lived and baked into an organization’s DNA, systems, policies, processes and procedures. Purpose requires buy-in. For the organization’s purpose to work, people in the organization need to believe and buy in the organization’s mission, vision, values and purpose.

When an organization’s purpose is believed and is bought into, then team members will be much more intrinsically motivated. They will have a fire in their belly that motivates them to work on their personal and professional goals because they are fueled by purpose.

According to the University of Berkeley “extrinsic motivators and constraints of many different kinds undermine creativity because they undermine the intrinsic Motivation to create for its own sake, for the love of it. Our studies revealed that intrinsic Motivation drives creativity; people are most creative when they’re motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and personal challenge of the work itself—and not by extrinsic motivators.”

Creativity should be based on team members’ interest that is aligned with the organization’s purpose.

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