Around the globe, a growing number of organizations are driving innovation in order to streamline their business processes and improve their products. Of course, creativity—the ability to come up with unexpected, original ideas and solutions—is an integral element of innovation. However, you can’t simply instruct your team to “be creative” and expect them to deliver a steady stream of viable suggestions. The following strategies will help you enhance your team’s creativity:
1. Encourage people to voice their ideas and opinions. Your employees need to know it’s not only okay to speak up if they have an idea; it’s actually valued. When they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, it’s more likely to foster the kinds of discussions required to generate creative solutions.
2. Facilitate diverse ways of working. People have their own ways of doing things. Some people like to work in teams; others prefer to work alone. Some enjoy using a pencil and notepad to jot down their thoughts, while others always make notes on their tablets or make voice recordings on their phones. There are people who do their best thinking during a quick walk, and there are others who get new ideas when they talk things through with someone else. When you allow people to choose how they work—so long as they do their jobs and do them well—they’re happier, and that can prompt more creativity.
3. Change things up. In his Inc. article titled “3 Ways to Foster Creativity in Your Team,” Adam Fridman suggests exposing people to different work practices. For example, you can take your team on a corporate retreat or pair up employees who normally don’t work together. Simply by changing one or two factors for a limited period of time, employees can start to see things from a different perspective, and that can help them come up with totally new ideas.
4. Hold guided brainstorming sessions. The key to an effective guided brainstorming session is to follow viable ideas through to a point where they can be fully visualized. After an initial round of suggestions and ideas, discuss each one with your team to determine which ones are exploring further. Select the three best ideas; then work with your team to see how you could develop them to create effective, exciting solutions or products.
When implemented correctly and consistently, these strategies can greatly improve your team’s creativity. And by valuing what your employees communicate, you’ll go a long way to encouraging new thoughts and innovations.
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