5 Tips to Help Your Team Be More Creative

In today’s challenging economic times, creative thinking is more valuable than ever. Not creative for creativity’s sake – creativity to solve real business problems. Many of the ideas of the past are no longer relevant. As a seasoned leader shared with me recently, “The half-life of ideas is decreasing rapidly.” So what’s our response?We need more and better ideas. The good news: creating new, value-added ideas is what teams do best. However, creativity in a team environment is not automatic. There are some things that leaders can do to increase the creative output of their team. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
Expect Your Team to Be Creative – When you establish the role of your team, be sure to highlight the expectation that the team will create fresh, new solutions to the problems you face.
Teach Them How to Be Creative – The skills of creativity can be learned. To learn them, they must be taught. Schedule time to conduct training for your team. This can take many forms. It can be as brief as a micro session on effective brainstorming (before your next brainstorming session) to multi-day training sessions and everything in between. The point is simple – train your team on the skills of creativity.
Give Them Opportunities to Practice – Creative thinking and problem solving are skills – just like golf, tennis or a foreign language.  Like any skill, you get better with practice. Look for opportunities for your team to practice the skills you’ve learned. Practice builds competence and competence builds confidence.
Celebrate Creativity When You See It – The actions that you reward will be repeated. That’s human nature. That’s one reason you need to recognize not just the successes but the effort as well. Not every creative endeavor will be successful. That’s normal. If you’ve been operating in a culture in which creativity has not been valued, recognizing creative effort will be even more critical. People are paying attention. They want to know if it’s really safe to voice new ideas.
You, the Leader Must Set the Pace – People always watch the leader – whether we want them to or not. Do your people see you embracing creative ideas? Do they see you engaged in the process of creating new ideas? You can accelerate the adoption of creative thinking as a skill if you personally get in the game. If you don’t, you’ll need to temper your expectations of groundbreaking new ideas from your team.
Teams are probably at their best when they’re engaged in the creative process. They are leveraging their collective wisdom and experience to create what previously did not exist. One of the most satisfying and productive things leaders can do is create the conditions to harness this creative potential. Start today and get ready to be amazed at what your team will do![GLS_Shield]

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Michael Nichols

9 years ago

Excellent post Mark. I’ve discovered that many leaders are the most creative people on the planet – you can read my post about creative leadership here – http://www.michaelnichols.org/leaders-are-creative/.
I agree that “creating new, value-added ideas is what teams do best” – great thoughts!

Jonathan Alexander

9 years ago

i especially like “give them opportunities to practice.” a great process to help unleash creativity in ourselves and all of our team members (regardless of whether they find themselves to be creative or not) is edward debono’s “6 Thinking Hats.” i recently went to a day-long training event in this method, and it has helped myself and our team focus on creativity and then on a strategy for executing well on those creative ideas: http://www.debonoconsulting.com/Six_Thinking_Hats_Public_Seminars.asp

mark

8 years ago

I’m a huge deBono fan too! I had the opportunity to have lunch with him a few years ago. He’s an amazing man. Thanks for your comment!

Scott Danielson

9 years ago

Celebrating Creativity and Setting the Pace are usually the most difficult but most important steps to making a more creative team.
I’ve seen countless leaders encourage creativity and yet shoot down new ideas and expect all creative thoughts to come from their employees.
Great advice!

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for your comment! I try not to be one of those leaders. Mark

Chris Patterson

9 years ago

Mark love this post. I would love to hear more ideas on how to teach creativity. I would love to hear the in between. Thanks!
“It can be as brief as a micro session on effective brainstorming (before your next brainstorming session) to multi-day training sessions and everything in between.”

mark

8 years ago

Chris, sorry for the slow response. There are countless “in between” activities you and your team can do to raise the bar on creativity on your team. This may be a good brainstorming activity for your team. Here are a few more ideas to get you started… Do a book study or two or three or more on creativity. There are a few books on my recommended reading list (Resource Page). Do a field trip to visit an advertising agency in your town. Go to the Art Conference at Willow or the Creativity Conference at Fellowship Church.com. Do a case study of a creative company/church at every meeting for the next year. Identify things in your future that impede creativity in your organization and snuff those things out. Call me and we can talk about more ideas if you’d like. You’re on the right track – keep it up! Mark

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