How to Promote Creativity in a Team
Creativity is an important commodity in today’s forward-looking world where people are always trying to find ways to better their lives. However, how often do we capitalise on our ability to think outside the box? If we ponder upon it for a moment, we realise that our creativity is much stifled, even from an early age, where we are implicitly taught in school that thinking for ourselves is not a good thing- how do you do well for an examination? Memorise, and regurgitate. There is little to no independent thinking involved. Just simple rote learning.
Thus, when we move on to the ‘real’ world, where we have to face and conquer ‘living’ problems that are always changing and need us to adapt accordingly, the main difficulty we face is having to activate our creative sparks. While it may not be an easy to accomplish feat due to acculturation, where we stick to what we are accustomed to out of habit, it definitely can be done. In fact, here are some tips to promote creativity in a team:
- Resources should be made readily available
Sounds obvious, does it not? However, in most cases, what we find is that people are not given the resources they need to develop creatively. This is because of the mistaken notion that being starved of resources will force people into thinking creatively – they have to solve their problem with what they have or are given. However, while this may train one to be resourceful and teach one the importance of not wasting resources, it hardly does one’s creativity any benefit, because being resourceful ultimately does not have anything to do with thinking creatively to find solutions to a problem.
Thus, from information to funding and materials, having sufficient resources which are readily accessible is fundamental when fostering an environment conducive to the generation of creative ideas, and ought not to be overlooked.
- Give Team Members Autonomy
It is good and well for a team to set well-defined targets for a project. By having goals to work towards, it allows them to understand where they are headed. Even better if they are given in conjunction with an explanation of how achieving them will be beneficial for the organisation.
However, to promote creativity, it is necessary to look beyond these, and understand the circumstances under which creativity flourishes. Perhaps one of the most significant things that can be had to promote creativity is autonomy. Autonomy, or the space to feel that one is in control over his own work and ideas, is vital as it gives people space to reflect on past events and the present situation, to leverage on past experiences to understand how the problem at present can be solved.
Of course, while having autonomy is necessary to allow ideas to grow and creativity to flourish, it is necessary not to lose sight of the targets that the team ultimately wishes to achieve.
- Give enough time
Creativity is not like a light. It cannot be turned on and off with a switch. Therefore, enough time has to be given if creative work is to be done. Unfortunately, many teams hold the belief that creativity can be stimulated by having to work under tight deadlines.
People need time when given a problem to solve to contemplate that problem, understand it inside-out and outside-in, think about what they need to do, conduct research to find possible solutions, and brainstorm with others to discover different perspectives. By denying people the time needed to complete all these with a tight deadline or other similar means, it translates into is a disservice to creativity, as people are not given the chance to realise their full creative potential.
Creativity is certainly a vital tool in today’s teams, so why not let it grow? Stop the festering of creative juices by following the above tips starting today.
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