Teresa Amabile, Progress Principle and Creativity at your workplace.

“The desire to do something because you find it deeply satisfying and personally challenging inspires the highest levels of creativity, whether it’s in the arts, sciences, or business.”

― Teresa Amabile, Professor of Business Administration at HBS.

I was not aware of Teresa Amabile’s work till I started doing projects on innovation and studying cognitive psychology. Teresa has done lot of work in area of creativity and even designed an inventory to measure creativity in organisations- KEYS. Impressed with her work, I obtained licence to administer KEYS.

Her latest book on creativity- Progress Principle- gives some simple tips on how to make improve creativity in organisation.

Everything starts with great inner work life– which is cluster of work that you do, your inner motivation, your positive emotions and perception of your colleagues.

If you have great inner work life, then you find your work meaningful, besides you also improve your creativity and productivity.

Few things you can do improve inner work life are…

  1. Progress Principle– While doing your work; always celebrate the progress that you and your team makes every day esp. small wins. We tend to ignore incremental progress.
  2. Dealing with setbacks– Organisation should treat setback as learning opportunity and address setback quickly.
  3. Catalysts & Inhibitors– Catalysts like clear goals and sufficient resources speed up progress, while inhibitors like lack of clarity and purpose block progress.
  4. Nourishers and Toxins– Nourishers like encouragement and recognition improve inner work life, while toxins like office politics poisons inner work life.


There is difference between inhibitors and toxins- Inhibitors directly hinder the project work, while toxins affect interpersonal relations that undermine people doing work. Negative events are more powerful than positive ones -impact of toxins and inhibitors on work life is more than impact of catalysts and nourishers, so always try to minimize toxins and inhibitors.

  1. Reduce time pressure– If your team is working under high time pressure due to unrealistic deadlines and burdened with too many unrelated tasks, then creativity of individual/team will go down. Try to keep high time pressure period as low as possible. A team will be creative if it works under low or moderate time pressure.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s