When I was young, I thought I wasn’t creative. I dreaded going to art class where my projects never turned out as good as my classmates. While in business school, I attended a seminar by Dr. Epstein, a longtime psychology researcher. He said that many of us feel like we need permission to be creative possibly due to a teacher who shut us down when we were young. He actually recommended that we close our eyes and daydream to help us boost our creative output at work.
If you are anything like me, you are constantly thinking about ways that processes can be improved at work. I ask myself, “Why are we doing it like this when we could do it much better this other way? Why do I have to use this old database when new technology can do this for me in 5 minutes?” (One of the main reasons I started my own business so I could do it my own way).
Unfortunately, new processes and ways of thinking are not always welcomed by companies which makes employees scared to voice their ideas. According to a recent article by Inc.com, often the most cost-effective source of ideas is right in front of managers. So how can managers make employees less reluctant to come forward with their good ideas?
Here are 8 ways to boost creativity at work:
1. Generate as many ideas as possible. During brainstorming sessions, there are no bad ideas. Criticism and evaluation of the ideas will come later.
2. Your personality type does not make you creative. No matter what your personality type, you can learn skills that can boost their creativity.
3. Shifting works. We did an exercise where half the class came up with ideas together as a group. The other half spent some time brainstorming together and some time brainstorming by themselves. Even with all the moving around, the shifting teams produce twice as many ideas as the non-shifting ones. During brainstorming sessions, teams should shift at least once so that groups don’t inhibit creative expression.
4. Groups must be diverse. If members are diverse, a greater variety of ideas will be generated.
5. Treat ideas with a tiny little nod. Always provide positive feedback and encourage additional ideas with “That is great, give me more.”
6. To make a decision, rank individually and then rank as a team. This allows the entire team to be happy with the winning option, not just the few with the loudest voices.
7. Keep an idea journal. I quickly forget ideas that pop into my mind if I don’t write them down ASAP.
8. Take frequent breaks. Down time allows us to think about current issues and processes in new ways. My best ideas come while driving home from work or during a long run.
Did you know that employees at Google are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on projects they are passionate about? They can use one full day a week to daydream, fantasize, experiment or rest. Google is tapping into the creativity of its people and utilizing it for the benefit of the company. How many more great ideas would today’s companies find if employees were allowed more time to invent and explore ideas?
What tips do you use to boost creativity?
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