Regardless of the nature of your business or organization, as a team leader, one of your primary goals is to put together a group of people who can work together to come up with solutions to a range of complex problems. Importantly, your team will be much more successful at achieving this goal if they are encouraged to think creatively.
If you identify and implement a few creativity-boosting measures in the workplace, you’ll soon find your employees thinking outside of the box regularly, giving you a major competitive advantage.
Read on for a few tips and tricks to get the creative juices flowing.
Be Open to All Ideas
If you want your team to operate more creatively, it helps to study businesses where creative thinking is the norm.
An example would be Pixar. Even if your industry is completely unrelated to animation and filmmaking, Pixar is a great example of what creativity can do in the workplace.
Why? Because when teams at Pixar develop ideas for movies and related projects, they encourage all members to share all ideas. The Pixar attitude is that there are no bad ideas—just ideas that may not make it into the final version of a project.
This is effective because it allows team members to feel more comfortable sharing all creative thoughts they have. Though not every idea will pan out, this kind of welcoming setting will ensure that team members feel comfortable sharing their insights and thoughts, which could lead to innovative products or services that put you a step ahead of the competition. A more stifling environment, on the other hand, could cause you to end up missing out on these game-changers.
Make sure you explicitly state to your team members that all ideas are welcome when you’re working together to solve problems. Let them know that failing to contribute is discouraged, and all team members must treat each other’s ideas with respect.
You may worry that being too respectful toward ideas that you aren’t sure are valuable will result in wasted time. Make sure you don’t spend so much time on a weak idea that you end up accomplishing nothing. But as the Pixar example demonstrates, when you embrace the “no bad ideas” principle, the strongest and most useful insights will naturally rise to the top.
This method promotes creative thinking. When people can comfortably share their ideas during brainstorming sessions, they eventually become more naturally inclined to think creatively on a regular basis.
While every human being is unique, there are many elements of a person’s background that affect the way they think. These factors include gender, race, heritage, economic status, religion, and much more.
This is a major reason why cultivating a diverse team is a good idea. Among other benefits, diversity in your workforce ensures you will get a diverse range of ideas, solutions, and thought processes. This helps you avoid the kind of narrow thinking that can often plague teams in which most employees share the same background and demographic traits.
Many people assume that creative thinking has a “random” quality or that true creativity involves allowing one’s thoughts to flow freely.
To some degree, this is true. Rigid thinking can prevent creativity from flourishing, but it’s also possible to go too far in the other direction. If creativity isn’t harnessed, creative thinking can devolve into truly random thinking, leading to nowhere in the end.
Make sure your team members understand and focus on the final objective when applying their creativity during brainstorming sessions and related meetings. Their creative thinking will help them determine how they are going to achieve a goal, but they also need to remember why they are engaging in creative brainstorming in the first place.
Encourage Idea Generation
As a team leader, you have to make sure your employees are using their time wisely. They can’t spend too much time on tasks that don’t serve a practical and immediate purpose.
You should consider setting aside a brief amount of time every day (even as little as five minutes) in which your employees must simply list 10 or so new ideas they have. These can be ideas directly related to your team goals or ideas they may have in general (although general ideas might be private and so shouldn’t be shared in a team meeting). This helps them exercise their creative muscles more frequently, and like a muscle, their creativity will grow.