One of the more interesting sessions I attended at the recent International Group for Humor Studies conference in Utrecht, Netherlands, was on “Flexible Humor Styles and the Creative Mind.” The paper presented echoed similar studies that have found a positive correlation between humor and creativity. But not all humor is equally effective. The type of humor most conducive to greater creativity is a “self-enhancing” style – humor related to having a good-natured attitude toward life, having the ability to laugh at yourself, your circumstances, and the idiosyncrasies of life in a constructive manner. The study also found that humor and creativity both contribute to superior verbal fluency – yet one more reason to take your sense of humor along for the ride as often as possible.
Studies into creativity often use an assessment tool known as the Guilford Measures, which some workplaces use when trying to objectively measure that elusive beast called creativity:
1. Fluency: how many responses a person, team or process can generate
2. Flexibility: how many different types/categories of responses are generated
3. Originality: how different are the responses from the norm
4. Elaboration: how detailed are the responses
The next time you’re brainstorming something at work, try seeing how the responses would measure up against those four criteria. If you’re experimenting with different approaches to creativity, consider using the criteria to measure the effectiveness of each approach.
And if you want to nurture your own creativity, you may also want to consider the attitudes researchers have defined as the five key drivers of creativity: curiosity, imagination, attraction to complexity, risk-taking, and last, but definitely not least in our books – a healthy sense of humor! Which one of these traits do you and/or your team excel at. . .and what do you need to work on the most?
Michael Kerr is one of Canada’s most sought after keynote speakers. Michael travels the world researching, writing and speaking about workplaces that rock, with a special focus on humor and creativity. His next book is called The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All The Way To The Bank. www.MikeKerr.com
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