Is your professionalism killing your creativity? Guest Blog by Lucy Gower

20th June 2016

Lucy Gower collageThis guest blog is by Lucy Gower, our phenomenal speaker for the Charity Meetup in February 2016. Lucy also ran practical activities with the group to help them implement their learning and practice encouraging creativity and innovation in their workplaces.

When I ask people if they think they are creative they usually shy away from the question, either not believing that they are, or somehow embarrassed to admit it.

In case you are in any doubt – you are creative.

As a human being you are capable of having thoughts and ideas. How you inspire your own creativity and access your creative mindset is different for everyone.

Lucy running a creativity / innovation exercise with the group at the Charity Meetup in February 2016

However, what I’ve found is that most people feel more creative and have their best ideas when they are relaxed, for example in the shower, walking the dog or on a long journey. The minority of people have their best ideas when they are at work.

Most of us turn up to work and leave our authentic creative selves at the door in an attempt to be professional, successful and climb the career ladder. And in my experience, the majority of the organisations we work for perpetuate that professional culture with the expectation that we do serious work at our desks to achieve serious target driven KPIs.

The group test driving their new techniques to encourage new ideas to flow

I’m not saying we should not have target driven KPIs, we are fundraisers, we have great responsibility to generate income in order that our organisations or our clients can deliver important services and we should be measured on that. However, in a competitive and difficult fundraising environment the skill of being creative to enable us to stand out and seek alternative ways of growing income is becoming increasingly important, as is the bravery to test out ideas that are new and different. Finding ways to encourage and nurture creativity and innovation has never been more important.

According to the research of psychologist Donald MacKinnon as far back as the 1970’s, for creativity to flourish we need to engage ourselves in a childish sense of play. An over professional culture, lacking a playful element could be bad for our ability to have creative ideas and therefore stand out in a crowded marketplace which impacts on our fundraising and therefore ultimately results in poorer outcomes for our supporters and beneficiaries.

dsc_1825_24191230674_oMacKinnon found that creativity is not a talent as such, but more a way of operating – a state of mind. And the most effective way to unlock that state of mind is through what he described as being in a ‘playful’ state.

John Cleese refers to this in his excellent talk on how to be creative and sums it up by saying, “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”

However creativity for creativity’s sake is a waste of time. We also need the skills and tenacity to say no to the weakest ideas and turn good ideas into a reality that makes an impact on the causes that we exist to help. That’s the innovation part – making good ideas happen.

In the same way that people tend to shy away from declaring themselves ‘creative’, the innovation buzzword often feels shrouded in mystery or we believe that it is beyond our remit or responsibility. Innovation is part of every fundraisers role, and the best innovation happens when teams are clear on what innovation means for them and then work together to make it happen.

We’ve been doing a spot of play ourselves over at Lucidity and have developed a tool to help you;

  • Open up conversations about innovation and what it means for individuals, teams and your fundraising
  • Tap into your playful self
  • Help your team work together to make more creativity and innovation happen.

What innovation animal are you?

ia-share-unknown-fbIt’s a tool that identifies which innovation animal you are. It’s simple.  Answer the 13 quick questions. You will receive a one page report direct to your inbox that outlines your animal type and your innovation traits as well as which animal buddy to team up with for best results.

Maybe you are a meerkat, solution focused and interested in collaboration, or a penguin, organized, considerate and charming. Take the quiz to find out.


We developed the quiz to be a playful tool and it is also designed to help your team innovate and make your creative ideas a reality. If you understand your own innovation style and preferences and the style and preferences of your team, you can play to each others strengths to make ideas happen. Creativity and innovation is a team sport and the best ideas happen when they are shared and built on together.

Let me know how you get on and get in touch if you would like any help building your creativity and innovation capacity.

Find out more about Lucy and her work here: