The world is full of color and creativity, and so is the workplace! Or at least it can be when you let that inner artiste out to shine. So, buckle up, dear reader, and let’s chat about nurturing and boosting the creative mojo of your team.
Why Creativity in the Workplace is a Game Changer
You might be wondering why you should even care about creativity at work. After all, it’s work, right? Is it really supposed to be creative in the office? Though it might not be creative in the sense that you’re slapping paint on a canvas, creativity is indeed beneficial at work.
Some of the most compelling reasons to foster creativity are listed below:
- Creativity helps with problem-solving. It can help your team uncover innovative solutions that might otherwise get missed.
- Creativity fosters adaptability. When you have a team that embraces a creative mindset, it’s easier to adapt and pivot when needed. Markets and industries change fast, which makes that an invaluable skill indeed!
- Creativity boosts teamwork and the collaborative efforts of everyone when they bounce around ideas and brainstorm solutions.
- Creativity can increase job satisfaction and lead to higher rates of job retention. In this study, they did a meta-analysis that links the positive relationship between the two and the circular effect it can have––so creativity boosts satisfaction, which in turn boosts more creativity.
Creating an Atmosphere Conducive to Creativity
There are a few specific exercises you can experiment with to ramp up creativity in your team, but first, let’s talk about foundation. Your team’s environment matters, and how you set it up determines how well your team will flourish in creativity.
To do it well:
- Make open communication a priority. Your team needs to know they can share ideas without fear of being judged for them.
- Embrace diversity. Innovation and new ideas are driven on the backs of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
- Don’t skimp on resources for your team. Training, tools, and opportunities for your team to flex and develop their creative muscles are key.
- Be flexible. Creativity isn’t always linear. Consider the power of workspaces or work hours that might be considered unconventional or processes that can help get your team’s creative juices flowing.
5 Exercises to Help Your Team Innovate
Once you know you’ve laid down some solid groundwork in your team’s environment, you can start exploring specific strategies to help your team innovate and be more creative.
Flex Brainstorming Muscles
When you want to generate fresh ideas, brainstorming is a technique that’s tried and true.
To get the most from a brainstorming sesh:
- Define clear objectives. You want to have the problem that needs solving or the goal you want to reach clearly in sight.
- Get a little wild. Encourage ideas that seem outlandish because even those can lead to creative solutions.
- Use each other’s ideas as a bridge to the next one. Build on existing premises and encourage everyone to practice good listening skills as they each offer up ideas.
- Consider using someone to facilitate and guide the convo. That way, you can make sure everyone gets a turn and is heard, and the objective stays front and center.
Try the Visual Wonder of Mind Maps
If you’ve never tried mind mapping, you might be missing out! Mind maps are a great way to help your team visualize and make connections between ideas that might seem totally unrelated.
- Choose a central idea. This might be a main problem or just a concept. Write it down on paper or a whiteboard, or use your fave tech tool.
- Start adding branches. These could be themes, categories, and related ideas that connect back to the central idea.
- Keep adding branches and sub-branches. You can use sub-branches to expand on an idea or add details and connect them to other branches that might be relevant.
- Keep it collaborative! Have the whole team throw in their ideas and suggestions, so you can build on them.
Experiment with Improv
If you’ve ever taken theater in high school, you might have some experience with improv. However, it’s not a skill reserved just for comedians and actors. It’s also a great way to ramp up workplace creativity.
To try it during team-building day, experiment with these exercises:
- Role-playing: Perhaps self-explanatory, but you can have your team role-play industry-related scenarios and act them out. This encourages quick thinking and creative solutions.
- Word-at-a-time: This is a story-telling exercise where your team gets in a circle and comes up with a story one word at a time.
- “Yes, and…”: Similar to the word-at-a-time premise, this exercise prompts your team to take turns building on ideas by saying, “Yes, and…” and then adding their own ideas.
Break the Routine with a Creative Field Trip
There’s nothing quite like breaking up the monotony of routine and getting out of your daily environment to help spark creativity and new ideas. That includes getting out of the office! Try organizing team field trips to mix it up.
Some ideas to get you started:
- Museums and art galleries can be a great way to inspire innovative thinking because you can explore different techniques, styles, and perspectives.
- Hit up a local park for a group nature walk. Time in nature can help inspire creativity and lower your team’s stress levels, helping them operate as their best, most innovative selves.
- Plan to attend some kind of class or workshop that teaches your team something new they can use in their work in some way.
- Attend an industry event or visit a local business and see how other businesses do things. This can spark some ideas for your own biz and team.
Celebrate Creative Risks and Failures
A final way to truly commit to a creative team environment is to commit to recognizing and celebrating not just the successes but the failures, too. This can give your team more confidence in taking risks and give new ideas legs.
To do it:
- Make discussing and sharing failures safe for your team. Create space for them to do it without fear and chat about lessons learned from those failures.
- Give kudos to team members who are willing to take risks. Celebrate them and acknowledge their bravery, even if the idea doesn’t work out as they hoped. Success is just one failure away.
- Encourage a “Fail fast and fail forward” mindset. Every new iteration moves your team closer to a successful outcome. Encourage that forward momentum, and encourage learning and improving with each new version.
Workplace creativity isn’t just about people hanging out and playing video games while they bounce ideas around (though that can sometimes work, too!). It’s also about creating an environment that inspires your team, a space that cultivates collaboration and open communication, and a mindset that embraces risk instead of avoiding it. Do that, and you’ll be amazed at the creative potential of your team that’s unleashed!