Creativity is about more than just art.
Creativity is how we get great innovation, but encouraging creativity in a structured environment, like work, can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, with a little creativity of your own, you can get the ideas flowing. Here are a few ways to encourage creativity as part of your innovation strategy.
Issue A Challenge
The proverb that necessity is the mother of invention has always been true, but it overlooks something important: People embrace challenges. Anything you find on the shelf at a store was invented because somebody was challenged to overcome a problem. So, think of challenges you can issue to your team. These don’t have to be product-related, either. Challenge them to think like a new customer who doesn’t know they need your services. Challenge them to use your product in a new way. Or even challenge them to do something totally unrelated. Sweeten the pot with a prize, like an extra week of vacation or a few shares of company stock.
Encourage Both Cooperation And Competition
As long as it’s friendly, competition is no bad thing, and encouraging friendly competition is a good way to get ideas. But don’t forget that some of your team will thrive not by working against each other, but with each other. Encourage them to team up, especially across departments and disciplines.
Balance Structure And Freedom
There will, alas, always be meetings in any industry. But there’s a difference between a meeting where people need to get the information, answer the questions, and get out the door, and a meeting about sharing ideas. Think of creativity like changing the course of a mighty river; it’s a lot easier to gently guide it towards a direction on the horizon than force it to make a sharp turn it may not want to head in. Allow creativity meetings to go with the flow and leave behind the agenda.
Creativity is as much about environment as it is about ideas.
Support Multidisciplinary Learning
It’s often forgotten today that the real value of an education is the skills to think critically and the ability to learn different sets of tools to apply to different types of problems. When people have to step out of their usual way of doing things, it tends to spark creativity. Having methods on hand, such as online courses or tuition remission, for your employees to learn new skills and new approaches, will give them new ways to approach old problems.
Be Creative With The Necessary Stuff
There’s no law that says every meeting must be held in a conference room, or that every worker must discuss creativity between 4 and 5 on Tuesdays. Applying creativity to the small things can help your team develop creative approaches to your challenges. For example, instead of having a meeting about creativity in the conference room, have a “walking” meeting when you take a hike as a group, or have the meeting outside, or even just have it in a more unstructured space.
There’s no perfect way to ensure every employee is creative. As you’ve seen here, you’ll often need to be a little creative to get each person to that place. But the rewards will be enormous, and not just for your company; creativity will be great for your team, personally and professionally. To learn more, join our newsletter!