The give-and-take between technology and creativity is greater than you may think

Does Productivity Suffer From New and Creative Technologies?

By Colby Conway on Aug 4, 2017
tablet, technology, creativity Balancing creativity in the workplace can be fickle because implementation of new materials and technology can cause chaos in the beginning, despite its intention to make things easier on everyone. Everything has a learning curve, but do all organizations understand this when implementing new interfaces, software or technology? Perhaps not, but in a world where technology thrives and production drives (profits), having the latest-and-greatest is tantalizing. "At the Interface," the theme of this year’s AOM conference, organizations must juggle numerous battles, including balancing creativity with protecting intellectual property and implementing new technology with the understanding of potential problems during the “learning curve” phase.

Implementing new software or interfaces into an organizational setting certainly can have benefits, including potentially saving money, easing workload/workflow and opening dialogue, but there are some potential downfalls of this implementation. Jeffrey Morris, Editor-in-Chief of IGI Global's International Journal of Art, Culture and Design Technologies (IJACDT), is the curator of the Fresh Minds Festival of audiovisual art and creator of the Performance Technology (PerfTech) program at Texas A&M. He weighed in on how interfaces can sometimes limit innovation.

“An interface might unknowingly discourage innovative or interdisciplinary work by virtue of not providing a place to acknowledge it,” says Morris. “On the other hand, expanding interfaces to accommodate innovation might unknowingly discourage or alienate members doing fine work that fits well in the existing channels by leaving them with nothing to show in the area marked for innovation.”

When any new technology or software is developed, protecting an individual’s or company’s intellectual property is pivotal. Not only must it meet the company’s ideals, but it needs to be natural, free-flowing and virtually seamless.

“To balance creativity while protecting their creation, an organization would do well to meditate on its most concise set of core principles, design an interface that ensures these minimal principles aren’t violated, and maintain a brave patience while watching culture bloom in ways unimagined,” says Morris. “Designing-in organizational principles is best when it’s done by setting up a natural flow that makes violations of principles awkward, unnatural, or ‘not a thing,’ rather than by explicit rules.”

Consider the following from Morris:

“Natural flow reinforces ‘how we are, as a community;’ rules say, ‘you'd better not.’”
Innovative software and interfaces are obviously meant to make some process, action or concept easier, faster or even trendier. However, if the process is awkward or unnatural to the user, what sort of mindset will that develop? Not to mention the fact that productivity could flounder during the adjustment. The endless narrative of the “give-and-take” phenomenon rears its head in this debate as well, considering the fact that despite a “fresh and exciting” technology, interface or software, early losses and “brain drain” can create negative attitudes or even resentment to said technology. Ultimately, is the give-and-take between creativity and technology worthwhile?

“As long as it is not so frequent that it consumes members’ focus just to keep up or that it doesn’t allow each system to bloom a bit and reveal its unintended assets, ongoing give-and-take from new technologies is good, because it allows the interface to be shaped by evolutionary factors,” says Morris. “If some good element is lost in such a change, that’s an opportunity to discover its true value and bring it back in future steps—perhaps that value wasn’t even intended or appreciated until it disappeared.”

tablet, technology, creativity While technology strives for enabling creative expression, we're starting to notice how it also guides and limits it. Consider this from Morris:

“We’re starting to mature in our advances and see the other side of the coin: how our tools shape our work and sometimes our patterns of thought,” says Morris. “For example, look at the tools Facebook gives you to design your identity and articulate your relationships with others: a profile thumbnail image and a banner image, certain emotion icons (emoji) and occasionally more, fields to submit birthday messages, automatically created animations and reprises of past posts, etc.”

This has its own consequences, including overkill and stymying communication development (young children using emojis rather than words), but the technological advancement is one that can’t be ignored nonetheless. Navigating the waters of technology, creativity and productivity can be tricky, but it ultimately comes down to a company’s or individual’s perspectives on when the give-and-take is too skewed in one direction.

A sincere thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Morris for taking the time to share his thoughts on technology and creativity.

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