Sep 19 2014
“[…]a certain level of boredom might actually enhance the creative quality of our work […]”
It is one step away from claiming that boredom makes you creative, which would make no sense. The frustration of boredom may motivate you to use your creativity, but deliberately boring people in order to make them creative is not something I would recommend.
I think that creativity is innate, but much more widely spread than most managers and engineers believe. The example in the article is about sales; I am more familiar with manufacturing, where most jobs are repetitive, tedious, and boring.
They jobs are also tiring, but most production operators will tell you that they don’t mind the tiredness as much as the slowness of the clock. Boredom is their number one enemy, and participation in improvement activities a welcome relief from it, as well as an opportunity to be creative.
People who are bored by repetitive tasks go “on automatic.” Their hands keeps executing the sequence of tasks with accuracy and precision, while their minds wander off to, perhaps, the lake they fish in on week-ends. While on automatic, you don’t think about improvements.
Changes in the routine, whether deliberate or accidental, refocus their minds on the workplace. This includes product changes, spec changes, rotation between work stations, or any breakdown like defects in the product, component shortages, or machine stoppages. During theses changes, while engaged, your mind is focused on responding as you were trained to, and avoiding mistakes. If you think of better ways to do this work, they go on the back burner in your mind, while you attend to immediate needs.
Depending on the management culture, operators may or may not be willing to share these ideas. They may be afraid of humiliation by a tactless manager, or they may fear that improving their job puts it in jeopardy,…
To put to use the operators’ creativity, you have to organize for this purpose, and it can’t be while the line is running. This is why continuous improvement requires structures, procedures, and leadership.