Productivity versus Creativity

There is a perpetual tension between productivity and creativity. Productivity is measurable, creativity is not. Being productive requires an effective and efficient planning of your working day. When being creative all systematic ways of working should be forgotten. How do an employer and an employee handle this?


Creativity is fundamentally about knowledge. How do you apply your knowledge in a new way? To really think outside the box, you have to gain knowledge outside the box. Irrelevant knowledge does not exist in the creative process. To be creative at crucial moments, you have to have a broad knowledge base.


Any company needs to innovate to be able to exist. To be able to be innovative, having knowledge and creativity are necessary. And the activities that feed into that, as well as the time and space, are not always measurable. So how come that companies still evaluate their employees on their measurable qualities, i.e. their productivity?


But who are we fooling? Don’t most of us think that actually working for 10 hours straight on your email or making phone calls is a lot more productive than taking a pause for a while, concentrate or an afternoon off?
The qualities which we use to define a successful working day, are still too much like a list of tasks where we systematically check off our todo’s.

Yet, being free in planning your time during your working day could actually lead to more successful contributions. Experiment every once in a while. Start with the most important tasks at hand and get them done. Use the remaining time to broaden your horizon. The necessity to be innovative, asks for trust in the relationship between employers and employees.

So when do you feel you have you proven your worth to your company; when you’re productive or when you’re creative?

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