“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”
– Maya Angelou
In most of the organizations, leaders are expected to think creatively and come up with decisions. But encouraging and promoting the creativity of the whole team is likely to lead to an even better selection of creative ideas and solutions to work tasks and problems. This is due to diverse workforce has variety of perspectives and knowledge, which is not found in just one person.
Once Wayne Gretzky, who was one of the most innovative and creative NHL player advised his young players that “you’ll miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take” and I think the same applies to creative thinking. It is really important to help the workforce in showcasing their creativity. Here are a few ways in which an employer or a leader can help his/ her team to boost their creativity:
- Support & reward creativity: Today, it is really important to have a creative team that can think out of the box. But sometimes the team members set themselves back; as they are scared to take risks and they might be afraid of the consequences of making mistakes. Risk taking has to be encouraged and should be made a norm in the organization. To develop a creative culture, the management has to become more open-minded and less judgmental towards the suggestions by employees.
The management should also understand that rewarding the employees for their creativity would encourage them to think and participate more. The rewards could be monetary such as bonus or non-monetary such as organization wide recognition.
- Encourage interaction and discussion: The management could do two things to enhance creative thinking within their employees. First, it could both make different diverse teams and allow them to come up with a creative solution for a problem within a given amount of time. This would allow interaction between the team members that may help them in understanding and thinking better.
Second, they could either allow them to have open discussions or a brainstorming session. When people have such intense discussions, they tend to think more and come up with great solutions.
- Diversity among employees: If an organization has employees with a similar mindset, qualification, background etc. then it would create a homogeneous workforce. Homogeneity has benefits such as great teams and like-minded talent, but at the same time it would leave less room for creative ideas.
It is really important to have a diverse workforce! People from different backgrounds and fields would have different thinking process and ideas. It would be great to make them mingle by making them participate in formal or informal settings.
- Positive working environment: Sometimes too serious of a work culture can hinder creativity and the mindset. A stressful work environment would only make an employee to look forward to the end of the day. Having some fun during work makes the employees feel fresh and energetic. Studies have proved that positive mood enhances creativity! Positive mood grants us to think flexible. This makes us open-minded and we become willing to explore more alternatives. Knowing such findings now, incorporating fun into the work through team-bonding activities or retreats every once in awhile can be a crucial element in injecting creativity in the workplace.
It is not only the employer’s or the top management’s work to do things that would enhance an employee’s creativity. It is equally important for an employee to remember some simple hacks to boost creativity. Here is a few which may help:
- Re-conceptualize the problem: According to a research, creative people tend to re-conceptualize problems before starting a creative task. Einstein once said, “If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining it, and 5 minutes solving it.” Before thinking about the end goal, one should constantly think about the problem, the origin of it and the process through which it could be solved.
- Doodle at your desk: It has been proven that one should take short breaks between work and start scribbling on a piece of paper. One should start writing or drawing whatever comes in their mind at that moment. Expressing your imagination paper sometimes helps to come up with great ideas or creative solutions to problems.
- Listen to music: Different people have different preferences. Some like to keep their headphones on during their work hours, while others like to work in silence. It is really important to know what kind of music inspires you. Music creates an aura around you that is joyful, sad or motivated. Knowing your kind of music can help you increase your focus, lift your mood up, and keep you inspired.
- Taking a walk: According to a research at Stanford University, it has been proven that one can think more creatively while walking. Steve Jobs loved discussing about creative ideas while taking a walk in the Palo Alto area around Apple’s office. One should take quick and short strolls inside the office area to enhance their creativity. Walking improves creative thinking, even while sitting after taking a walk. Plus it helps you stay healthy!
- Counterfactual thinking: Studies have shown that counterfactual thinking can boost creativity. To experiment this, one should take past real life events and reimagine different outcomes, alternating between the subtractive mindset (taking elements out of the event) and the additive mindset (adding elements into the event).
- Daydreaming: Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found an association between daydreaming and creative problem solving. Data from this research suggest that engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving. Plus daydreaming could aid in memory and recall.
- Read: Today, people read a lot of blogs, articles and write-ups online. It’s really good for gathering information. But one should never forget the benefits that one can gain from reading a book. Reading a book exercises your brain. A 30-minute a day read could make your brain muscles flex. It makes you think, fantasize, use your imagination. It enhances concentration as it provokes to use imaginative thinking and focus on what’s next. At the end of it, reading a book also improves your knowledge. Such effects of reading a book help you to boost your creativity.
- Exercise: Studies have shown that exercising helps one to think more creatively. Researchers asked half of the subjects to just watch an exercise video and the other half to perform it after watching. The ones who had performed the exercise had outperformed the others in terms of divergent thinking and they came up with more possible solutions.
- Go Green! Blue too: Studies have proved that different colors have different effects on the human brain. For example, the color red helps in increasing your focus, while the colors blue or green enhance creative thinking. You can try to see those colors in possible ways such as keeping green or blue desktop wallpaper.
As there are a lot of ways to boost creativity at workplace today, I would like to know about your understanding on the topic?
Feel free to comment about the above mentioned strategies, and I would like to hear about more innovative strategies that an employer or an employee could use or adapt for better creative thinking.