3 ways to foster creativity in your team

If your team has been doing things the same old way for too long, and you’ve been seeing the same old results, it’s time for a shake-up.

All businesses need to have a focus on innovation, after all, no matter the industry.

But innovation doesn’t come from constant repetition; instead employees need to have the freedom to explore many options and to get their creative juices flowing.

Here are three ways to foster creativity in your team today.


1. Support your workers


Many managers wonder why their workers never come up with any great new ideas, but don’t realise it’s because their team don’t feel safe enough to think differently.

To get to innovation, people first need to test out all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas and failure needs to be part of that process.

Most “out of the box” suggestions won’t actually work – and that fear of failure means employees are often too scared to approach innovation.

They fear getting reprimanded for ideas which fail, or worry they’ll be laughed at or ridiculed for coming up with suggestions that are outside the norm.

As such, they play it safe and their creativity is stifled.

READ: Hacking creativity 

To stop this happening, create a culture where failing is okay, encouraged even, because it means the next great idea is that much closer.

Give people the freedom and flexibility to try new things and to learn from those ideas that don’t bear fruit.

Make it clear that all ideas should be acknowledged, listened to, and encouraged.

Reward creative thinkers not just for successes, but for trying new things.


2. Incorporate creativity techniques into work days


Foster creativity further by suggesting employees incorporate a variety of creativity techniques into their work days.

Brainstorming is one example. Get team members to regularly get together to bounce ideas off each other.

Sessions should be about looking for new ways to combine thoughts and processes, with nothing being off the table.

The goal for these sessions should be to be as creative as possible.

Ideas don’t need to be evaluated here; it’s all about being free and having some fun to see what can arise.

To make this time most effective, put some limits in place. Constraints actually tend to help people think more laterally.

For example, if a team is working on suggestions for new products for your company, they could be given set limits about the types of creations to design.

Perhaps the goods can only be made from certain materials, or should have a very fast manufacturing timeframe, cost half the usual price, or weigh less than a pillow.

By putting these kinds of constraints in place (and these can be as unreasonable or silly as you like), people have to think a bit differently.

Innovations may then arise from one element of an idea, or a combination of them.


3. Get workers out of their set routines


It’s easy for workers to get in set routines and therefore to see the same people, hear the same ideas or complaints, and do things in the same way month after month.

To break this cycle, look for ways to give employees exposure to new things.

For instance, move staff members around the business. Enable them to work in different departments or locations.

When getting to know employees from other parts of the company, and seeing how things are done elsewhere, this can break regular patterns.

Also, regularly put together diverse teams of people to work on projects.

Bring in people from numerous backgrounds, ages, job types and departments (even ones that don’t necessarily seem to have much to do with the project at hand).

The combination of disparate skill sets, knowledge, experience, strengths, personalities and beliefs will soon spark innovative ideas.

This “cross fertilisation” is good because it allows people to see things from fresh perspectives, and to combine ideas in unexpected ways.