Social collaboration in workplaces – Time and creativity Best Practices Part 2

Social collaboration in workplaces

This post is the part 2 of the series, Social collaboration in workplaces. You can find the part 1 here.

Today, we will talk about how social collaboration in workplaces can help in areas where with time pressure to complete the work, there is no place for creative endeavors.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that time pressure will, in itself, spur creativity. That’s a powerful illusion but an illusion nonetheless.” These words are taken from an article in Harvard Business Review titled “Creativity under the Gun”. You can find the article here.

As the authors say at the end, it is all about dodging the bullets and bullets are a metaphor for all kinds of distractions.

With that in mind, what I would like to say is…

Do not rush creativity

Creativity needs some time to unfold. The sparks of insight that we encounter, need some time to internalize and recombine within the mind to fructify.

Research says that time bound and high-pressure jobs do not give rise to creative thinking nor new ideas.

Typically, in an organization managers give a day or two off after a task and particularly for tasks with tight deadline schedules. The fact is creative juices will not flow even after a day or two of completion. Employees often have to deal with something called the “deadline hangover” which lasts for several days. It could be because of exhaustion or post productive paralysis say some psychologists.

The question that many researchers ask is ‘why time pressure has the dampening effect on creativity?’

The answer lies in the associative nature of the mind.  What we can understand from many psychologists is that the creative process is the result of many (In fact a large number) of associations in the mind. And a particular combination or a network of associations trigger the creative process which we might find interesting and useful. We may call this as insight. As Einstein says, it is a ‘combinatorial play’. A play that happens within the mind by making a series of neural configurations, resulting in insight. You can find an interesting article about it here.

Please read our blog article: Benefits of social media in the workplace: An employee perspective.

Combinatorial process at play

Many research studies agree to this point of the combinatorial process in creativity. There are a couple of things to achieve this ‘combinatorial process at play’.  The first one is, we need to have sufficient knowledge and information to play with. Employees in workplaces need to spend time gaining new knowledge and learn new things.

Secondly, they the need the time for exploratory behavior a means for social collaboration in workplaces. Spending time on studying the things, collaborating with other colleagues, exchanging conversations and combining the things that might lead to new clues and newer ideas.

Managers sometimes ignore that when handling work with time pressure and deadlines,  the entire task should have a sense of urgency, meaning, and purpose. Employees should feel that they are important. Their work needs to be challenged in a positive direction. In such situations, distractions are ignored and employees would be more focused on completing their work. The employees should understand that completing a certain task would be important for the organization.

Leslie Perlow  in her book “Finding time: How corporations, individuals, and families can benefit from new work practices” showed that Engineers who agreed to give their colleagues and to each other uninterrupted work time without any distractions were able to complete their tasks and felt better during busy production times. A good example of social collaboration in workplaces.

In most organizations, we have seen so far, the best way to manage time pressure is to set overarching organizational goals and articulating them with well laid out plans and strategies. However, without a sense of clarity on how to accomplish those goals, will send a ripple effect of ‘time pressure’ across all sections of the employees and business units within the organization.  A good example, which we have known throughout our corporate lives, is the organization-wide ‘Cost reduction’ program.

Such time bound exercises will have the effect of ‘time pressure’ on the very people who are supposed to generate new ideas to initiate cost reduction projects in the right direction. Not having sufficient time to think through the problems and issues will have a cascading effect on having mediocre solutions in the outcome. This will also have a bearing on not having the foundation to advance to truly path breaking, exciting and promising solutions.


Sometimes, it is difficult to avoid extreme time pressure. We live a modern life and distractions are a way of life. There is no way that you can avoid or escape from them. At the same time, research suggests that low time pressure also does not necessarily create an environment to think creatively and have new ideas. Working under pressure also makes us creative sometimes.

The best way to move forward and to avoid the negative effects is to think of your current work as a ‘mission’.  A mission, as important as a core critical activity with much depending on its accomplishment. We need to create a sense of urgency filled with meaning and purpose. The work should challenge us to grow and evolve. This way, you would be best off ignoring your distractions and start loving the work you do.




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Ramkumar Yaragarla

I am 43 years old. Founder, Loving dad and Husband. Worked as an IT Business analyst and program manager in several Fortune 100 companies.Alumnus at the University of Warwick, UK. I love the WWW and write on Social aspects of information, Social collaboration, Digital Sociology, Digital Humanities and Work life balance. I enjoy playing on the beach with my 9 year old daughter. I am open to your suggestions and comments.
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