Creativity is essential to any organization if you want to move your business forward.
But what do you do when you’ve taken great pains to foster a supportive culture for this, but your team doesn’t seem to follow?
Often, it’s a matter of just one small shift in the way that you put your heads together.
Here are three ideas to help jump-start team creativity.
1. Champion the new idea.
What happens when a team member comes up with a new idea?
Most often, others on the team will respond with a cautionary response, or reasons why the idea will not work.
Research shows that when this happens, the subtle message is that bad things happen when new ideas are expressed. Instead, get your team to commit to doing the following: when someone shares a new idea or possibility, the first person to speak up must say something positive about the idea. This doesn’t mean the speaker has to endorse the idea; he or she must simply make a positive statement. An example might be, “That’s one I’ve never thought of! I’d love to sit down to explore how it might work!”
Research is showing that this one shift is allowing the safe psychological space in which to incubate innovation.
2. Play the “what if” game.
When brainstorming on a new idea, spending time on reasons why something won’t work can stall creative energy. Frustration sets in, and the brain’s frontal lobe (where we do all our best thinking) shuts down – and usually ends the conversation.
To avoid this, confront the perceived roadblock when identified by stating, “And what if _____ (identified roadblock) were not an issue?”
This will quickly reanimate the conversation and, quite often, promote other ideas to work around the roadblock when all is said and done.
3. Practice “brain-writing.”
Brain-writing is an effective alternative to brainstorming, which was popularized in the 1970s. The genius behind it is that it helps participants to step out their normal mental framework to explore greater possibilities.
There are variations of brain-writing, but one example is to pass out Post-ItTM notes or index cards, and have each person write down an idea. These are then passed to the next person on the right.
This receiving person can do one of three things: use the written idea as a catalyst for a new idea, modify the original idea, or pass the card along to the next person. After a set time agreed upon by the team, ideas are gathered up, grouped, and evaluated. For more on brain-writing, click here.
As you begin to recognize the sparks of creativity begin to fly, remember to encourage this so that momentum grows. Think about rewarding the best suggestion or solution with something the team has previously agreed upon, such as gift card for dinner out, a pair of movie tickets, or extra time off. These are small prices to pay for the benefits creativity brings – increased engagement, motivation, problem-solving and productivity, just to name a few.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.