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How creative are you? I know that is a broad question to answer as creativity could mean anything: playing an instrument, painting, drawing, cooking, photography are just a few examples.
However, fixing a car, gardening,coming up with a business idea, writing a blog, selling a house, selecting the right client for a position, writing a news story or devising a PR campaign all involve creativity.
Whilst many of us are creative in our private lives through hobbies , coming up with ideas in the workplace can be stressful both for the team member and the team leader. So how do you ensure the creative juices keep flowing?
The key to unlocking creativity is in the leader: understand your team members. My personality questionnaire may help. If you are the Facilitator, try it for yourself first. You may find it useful for your team members to complete too- colleagues scores rather than their specific answers could direct creativity in your team.
I hope that the quiz shows that the way we develop ideas differs from person to person. Even though the way creativity is formed is very much a diverse process, being aware of your team members personality types is a good start in idea production.
As the Facilitator, it is the team leaders responsibility to be aware of each members creative strengths and draw on these different personality traits throughout the discussion. Doing this in an environment with a feeling of acceptance and non judgement will create the perfect space for effective brainstorming to begin whereby ideas are bounced around. This might sound obvious but it is all too easy for meetings to get heated and remarks that may not appear negative such as "Be realistic ..." can sabotage creativity. As a team leader try to use phrases to generate ideas such as "Can you keep going with that ...", and "Let's look at it differently today."
Creativity does not have to be formed around a table in one group, so consider regular breaks whereby members can discuss ideas amongst themselves. After all, there could be work-based relationships that you may not be aware of as team leader that could generate ideas. Leaving a formal setting may instigate creativity. If time is limited having music being played in the background may be helpful; songs could acttivate cognitive cues which could in turn produce ideas. Leaving a formal office or business environment could bring the most success. A team-building day or an organised trip is always a good strategy as is playing a a creative game as this can produce analogies with personal experience that opens-up the subconscious, which is managed by the right hemisphere of the brain and promotes creativity.
Other factors that need to be considered as team leader in generating ideas are:-
Perceptual barriers: this is based in cognitive processing and could be both related to personality type and the brief given. For instance, theoretical thinkers with rigid processes may struggle to see abstract concepts or to define specific ideas. This should be considered as part of the planning process when considering team members attending a brainstorming session. It is as important when developing team-building days or informal game sessions to instigate creativity as those individuals with a more theroetical mode of thinking may struggle to visualise analogies which activate the subconscious. Theorists have an important role to play in perceptual barriers as Pragmatists may not see the specific details which Theorists see in a situation. Therefore, personality type is important to consider in team meetings.
Emotional barriers: knowing your team members and their situation is important before a brain-storming session. Individuals who lack confidence will have a fear of making mistakes or may distrust others and as a result this could prevent ideas being developed. Pay attention to these members: compliment ideas or discussions will reduce or break-down these barriers. Other members may need to conform and this could reduce creativity as this may limit ideas being developed and restrict broader group dynamics.
Overall, encourage employees to come forward wtih ideas; don't be negative with ones that are not suitable and have time set aside for talking about new ideas that emerge.
For team members finding your own strength will be a benefit to being creativity.
If you have more of an Activist personality, use your experiences to guide your ideas. Take a recent experience and brainstorm ideas which emerge from it. Through analysing the event, you will break it down the complicated elements which in-turn create new ideas. If you are a party planner, you may use this approach in coming up with ideas for a demanding client through scrutinising a party you have attended.
Those who are feeling more reflective, consider how objects you come across in your daily life may be representative of ideas you could use in your work. Look beyond the item and see its symbolic relevance. For instance, if you are an Estate Agent selling a house look for something beyond the norm - you could have a themed open house based around an unusual aspect which symbolises the property.
Asking questions is a very Theorist trait and is a perfect way to discover creativity. For some it is a difficult approach and this may be because you can remember times growing up where you continually asked parents or teachers questions to the point you were told off. This makes the art of asking questions difficult for some. Yet, it is an excellent way of testing ideas, generating some answers and it is because of this, it is creative. Journalists might believe the writing is artistic ignoring the interview, but the asking of questions is too. This can be hard to undertake and overwhelming, however, asking yourself what one aspect of a story or person is fascinating and why can lead to a new method of questioning that can make even the ordinary story unique.
Questioning is also a Pragmatist approach, although, it is not based in interviewing rather asking if an idea holds truth in the real world. Being a mechanic is a good example of this approach: you may have a hunch about why the car broke down but it can only be proven once she or he is under the car or investigating what is going on in the bonnet to prove the hypothesis.