We enjoyed this recent analysis of the relationship between productivity and innovation in the Harvard Business Review. Productivity and creativity have traditionally had a level of tension between them in the corporate world. Productivity favors efficiency, while creativity requires time and space to grow. In order to be creative in an organization, people need to have time to learn new things that may not be tied directly to their jobs, allowing for the creation of a “broad and deep knowledge base,” but this takes time, conflicting with productivity.
Companies typically evaluate employees based on measures of productivity. If an organization truly wants to foster creativity and new ideas, it needs to provide employees flexibility with their time, much like Google’s 20% time philosophy, where employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time on new ideas. Beyond offering employees time and flexibility, creative efforts need to be rewarded. Author Art Markman concludes that growing a creative culture is possible, however, productivity-obsessed leadership will need to give a little in order for employees to bring new ideas to the table.