Category Archives: Business Coaching

Creative Climate – Part 1

I can actually remember my very first attempt at being creative for work. I was just out of college and fresh off the boat from America, 21 and still blessedly naive. It was Christmas break 1995 and I only had a few days left to prepare for joining the workforce. Heiko’s uncle, Jochen Lösch, had decided to sponsor me as an employee in his PR and ad agency. Considering I had a math degree and some programming skills, Heiko had convinced his uncle that I could contribute to his plan of offering clients “new media” services. Jochen wanted us to get started a.s.a.p. and had already set up a meeting to pitch his most important client, BMW (Bavarian Motor Works), the idea of professionalizing their company Intranet.

I got right to work. Highly motivated, I read the entire HTML bible of the time. I dabbled in Future Splash and experimented with basic Java Script. It seemed doable enough, so I my refocused my attention on finding out more about the automobile giant. I didn’t get far, because some crazy fascination with that blue and white logo and the fact that is stems from the pattern on the Bavarian flag captured my imagination. I had just learned to make perspective drawings using mathematical principles, which I happily put to use by sketching an intricate blue and white diamond background. I devised a tentative navigation menu, scribbling these on the top frame. Genius! Or not?

My first online concept was anything but unique, much less relevant in terms of pitching to the client. It was junk. But Jochen didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. He saw beyond that sad sketch, all the way through to my burning motivation. He commended me for taking a risk and provided me with enough information for me to understand what wasn’t working in my concept. He then briefed me properly, gave me advice for moving forward and let me get back to it. I didn’t know it then, but Jochen had exhibited excellent creative leadership.

Almost fifteen years later, after a multitude of creative mishaps and a whole lot of creative successes at work (as a creative worker and a creative leader), I decided to write my master thesis on the subject of organizational creativity. I was especially interested in the sub-topic of “creative climate”, managerial practices and work environments which foster creativity. I thought I would share some of the insights I gained with you. So here we go…


Managing Creativity

In the context of an organization, innovation and creativity are about generating  ideas which are at the same time original and appropriate for the business challenge at hand; e.g. developing a highly marketable product or a more creative way to service customers. In most cases, employees are working together in teams to produce creative results and the directive of managers is to manage that creativity. But how?

In her article “How to Kill Creativity” Teresa M. Amabile, creativity guru and  Harvard business professor, lays out the three areas of creativity which managers can influence:

  1. Expertise (also known as domain relevant skills)
    Managers can influence domain relevant expertise needed for creative problem solving by hiring the right people with the appropriate knowledge and skills within the domain in questions.
  2. Creative thinking skills (also known as creativity relevant skills)
    Not all experts are innately creative thinkers. Managers can see to it that these experts are systematically trained to think outside of the box or “break set” to produce more original results.
  3. Motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic motivation)
    The current understanding in management theory is that you can’t motivate employees, but you can demotivate them. The same holds true in terms of managing creativity. Most forms of extrinsic motivation (money, fame and glory) appear to hinder creativity, while supporting existing intrinsic motivation seems to promote creativity.

And while all three aspects can be leveraged, Amabile argues that the most effective way to enhance organizational creativity is to focus on maintaining intrinsic motivation. She suggest doing so by providing a supportive and stimulating creative climate. In a 1996 study she and her colleagues introduced the “KEYS to Creativity”, eight factors which when leveraged can be purposely gauged to improve the creative climate and therewith increase innovation and creativity in organizations.

KEYS environment factors

  1. Organizational encouragement
  2. Supervisory encouragement (others researchers refer to creative leadership)
  3. Work group supports
  4. Sufficient resources
  5. Freedom
  6. Challenging work
  7. (Lack of) Organizational impediments
  8. (Lack of) Workload pressure

Stay tuned for general findings and discussion on each of the KEYS scales. Coming soon! 😉


Book tip: “Creativity in Context” by Teresa M. Amabile (ISBN-13: 978-0813330341)


Roman Braun on the art of business and communication

As you may know, Pat and I both look back on long careers in the areas of brand communication, digital marketing and advertising. Up to now, we have frequently written about topics related to personal development.

Starting today, we are broadening the spectrum to include matters related to business and business coaching – e.g.  leadership and organizational creativity (to name a few). In doing so, we would like to share our experience and expertise, as well as those of qualified and inspiring guest bloggers.

We are very pleased and honored that Roman Braun is kicking off with the first article in this domain. In this blog post you’ll hear what he has to say about the art of business and communication. In German. Enjoy!


Was gute Unternehmensplanung mit Kunst zu tun hat

Ein Reporter stellt dem Hundertjährigen die unvermeidliche Frage:
“Worauf führen Sie Ihr langes Leben zurück?”
“Das kann ich noch nicht sagen”, meint der Greis, “ich verhandle noch mit zwei Frühstücksflockenfirmen und einem Fruchtsaftfabrikanten.”

Werbung ist ein fester Bestandteil unserer Kultur, weil

Erfolg = Leistung x Kommunikation²

Es ist zu wenig gut zu sein in dem, was Du machst, Du musst es die Menschheit auch wissen lassen.

Trotzdem ist in Krisenzeiten der erste Impuls, in der Werbung zu sparen. Henry Ford, der erste Held des Industriezeitalters, hatte eine klare Position zur Werbung:
Wer aufhört zu werben, um Geld zu sparen, kann ebenso seine Uhr anhalten, um Zeit zu sparen.

Also sehen wir uns die Ausgangssituation an

Die Ansprüche der Klienten sind klar:

Die Umsetzung soll zwar originell sein,
darf aber weder zu infantil sein

noch zu plump

Das erhöht auch den Stresslevel in der internen Kommunikation:

Aber wenn es gelingt, kann etwas großartiges daraus werden:

Gute Unternehmensplanung, plant Kunstwerke wie dieses!

Zur guten Unternehmensplanung nochmal

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Wenn Sie einen Dollar in ihr Unternehmen stecken wollen,
so müssen Sie einen weiteren bereithalten,
um das bekannt zu machen.


Roman BraunDer Autor:

Roman Braun, Bestseller-Autor, langjährige Erfahrung als Business- und Mental-Coach in Wirtschaft, Politik und Sport; Direktor von Trinergy International (“Europas Nr. 1 für akademisches Coaching und NLP”), leitet seit über zehn Jahren Coaching-Ausbildungen. Zu seinen Kunden zählen neben Organisationen wie IBM, Philips, Beiersdorf, Agip, Mobil, Opel und UNIDO auch Weltcupsieger und Weltmeister.

Weiterführende Links: