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Getting Creative

How to encourage creativity within a team

When teams need some creativity the typical process followed by many managers is to; surprise everyone with a meeting, sit them down, pose a question, expect fantastic ideas, get frustrated that the brainstorm is more like a braindrizzle, listen only to the loud people in the team and send everyone away without a plan feeling slightly mystified about “What was the point of that!”

There has been lots of research into introversion and extraversion – certainly enough to show that he who shouts the loudest does not necessarily have the best idea. Group brainstorms can be productive but they are far from suitable environments for some people. If we want the team to be creative there are lots of things we can do to make it easier for them and produce better results at the end. Here are just a few tips…

Consider sub-teams

It can be a little unnerving to some, to voice their idea amongst a large group of colleagues, particularly if they’re nervous about sharing their opinions in public. If the same voices perpetually contribute at the expense of others who rarely participate form sub-groups.

Location Location Location

Try also varying the location of sessions – a boardroom or dingy meeting room can be uninspiring for creative thought. You don’t need to hire a swanky hotel, just go outside in the fresh air, go to a local park, go to someone else’s office. Just go somewhere different!

Stand and Deliver

If you give people a chair to sit (or slump) into their brains very often do the same. Can you get them up and moving around, Walking and talking is what we are designed to do.

Try Some Perceptual Positioning

Start with everyone stood at one side of a room and tell them they are standing in the “present”, then encourage them to all walk to the other side of the room and say we are now in the “future”. Encourage them describe what it’s like now (in the future) then ask them to turn and look back where they have come from and ask questions like “So how do we move from there to here?” “What do we need to do differently?”

Idea Building

Get people in pairs and ask them to come up with three ideas and write each one on a separate piece of paper. The papers are then passed to another pair who add their thoughts to the idea, to build on it and make it even better (not trash it). When everyone has added to all the ideas review what they have come up with as a team.

Send the Question in Advance

Let people know you want them to be creative in advance of the meeting. Make sure you phrase the question like “Meet to come up with at least eight ideas on how we can improve XXXX”. That helps them see that there is not just one way and will encourage their brains to keep going when they have had one idea.

Child’s play

Using models, Lego, building blocks, coloured pens, etc. can stimulate creativity. Making the thought process fun. It can encourage people to participate and feel more relaxed. Creativity is about making connections in your head that others haven’t made. Anything that can get brains buzzing, having fun and making new connections will help them get past the rehearsed predictable ideas to something that is a bit more interesting.

Harvest Late Blooms

Very often your subconscious brain will keep chuntering away mulling over a problem long after the meeting has finished. These post meeting ideas can sometimes be the most creative but we never hear them. People think it’s too late, that nobody will be interested and so on. As the manager you can make the point of contacting people to see if anything has occurred to them since the meeting … we bet you will find it has! 

Diversity rules

Whilst it’s a challenge to manage different personalities, attributes and attitudes in a group brainstorming situation, it’s important for all to remember the positives of diversity. If everyone thought the same, and used identical approaches to problem-solving, there’d be no innovation in the world whatsoever. Inviting people from different departments, or from various stages of the ‘virtual production line’ can bring valuable insight.

The management of creative, innovative thinking is hugely important; the correct approach can have dramatic impact on the quality of the creative thoughts produced. Innovation is the key to surviving in today’s crowded, competitive marketplaces, which highlights the importance of creative thought.

Call Emerge on 01329 820580 or email us at to find out how we can help boost your company’s creativity and innovation so that it realises greater success and/or expansion.

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