December 04, 2017

something I found on the Wayback Machine

Adding Creativity To Your Work Place: A Lesson from Smokin’ Smoke 
2003-08-29 15:47:38
One of the cool things about working with computers, as I do, is the amazing number of creative people you come across in your day. Just about everybody on my floor has a squeeze ball or a meditation toy or thick soled shoes to show their allegiance to the “mind”, not just the “grind.” Admittedly, I used to have a tough time with some of the ways people chose to express themselves, but ever since I took a creativity seminar, I’ve learned to grit my teeth and grin, because creativity in the work place is a vital part of innovation! Studies have shown that creative people are important in fields such as banking, human resources, and even other fields. So we try to nurture an environment that lets our “creatives” shine. For instance, granola bars are supplied free of charge. Instead of letting the creativity leak out by going to wasteful lunches, we have granola gatherings in the break room. Recently we hashed out a problem with the printer, which saved many person-hours. (How’d we do it? Turn it off, then turn it back on again! Creative!)

So when I heard Dan, one of our team members, having a fifteen minute personal conversation about his new band, Smokin’ Smoke, I didn’t just send him to the Xerox room with a hundred page tabbed report like in the bad old days. Instead I called him on the carpet and asked him, “How can we leverage your knowledge capital? How can Smokin’ Smoke be an asset to this corporation?” I followed Dan out to the ciggy porch (another not-so-groovy nod to creativity) and instead of giving orders, I listened.

Turns out Smokin’ Smoke is a little like a just-in-time management team. Dan and Mike had worked together before but they had gone on to other projects like the Dirty Knives and Enemy Mime. When it came time for them to work together again, they needed a catalyst, which they found in the singer, Spencer, who was formerly in the Murder City Devils and had worked with Mike on a project called Dead Low Tide. (Hey, don’t blame me if it sounds crazy!! I thought band names went over the top with Frankie Go To Hollywood, but I guess that’s why they call it creativity!). A catalyst, in the workplace, is someone who does not really perform a function for the team but who talks to the other people and makes sure they are on the same page and on point with the timeline and reports back up the structure. Having a catalyst made it possible for Dan and Mike to repurpose their skill sets to the task of delighting the customer, with the value-add of Spencer’s own skills and experience! Kind of like Mick Jagger!

Well, my favorite bands are Smashmouth and Sugar Ray, but I can tell without even hearing them that Smokin’ Smoke are just as creative as those two, they’ve got MTV clothes and moves, plus they have the advantage of having a small team that can adjust to contingencies on an as-needed basis. If they can leverage that strength/flexibility, I predict a big summer hit!

I learned a lot about creativity from Smokin’ Smoke. And I’d like to think Smokin’ Smoke learned a little about creativity from me. Because, you see, I’m a catalyst too. So grab a granola, and create (but pass the soy milk, please)!

David Rhoden | A New Orleans-based illustrator, painter, animator, and