Businesses that encourage creativity are usually better at finding solutions and are often able to outcompete other businesses in their niche. Companies who are creative with marketing can create extremely cheap or even free campaigns that generate much more buzz for their products than uninspired million-dollar campaigns. Companies that have a creative approach to product development can introduce new features that redefine their industry. These are only some of the reasons why promoting idea sharing and creativity should be a priority for your organization. Here’s how you can help your team come up with new ideas.
Get Everyone Involved
The very first thing you have to do is to make everyone on your team know that their ideas and suggestions are welcome. This goes for chief executives as well as people on the floor.
Let them know that their ideas will be implemented if they’re valuable. Make it a habit to sit down with your main decision-makers and ask them what issues the organization is facing or some issues they have with your processes.
You can then draw a concept map to tackle the issues. Concept maps are very simple and a way to connect different ideas to a main concept and present them in a clear visual format. They also organize ideas in hierarchical order with the main issue taking the most visual space. Each concept and idea will be placed in a box or circle with branches connecting them to sub-concepts.
If one of your goals is to increase brand awareness for instance, then this will be the main category. You can then divide this concept into two branches, like offline marketing vs online marketing, for instance.
From then on you and your team can start brainstorming ways to build brand awareness through these two methods. You can elaborate by using different branches and boxes to easily visualize the methods you will use, how you’re going to implement them, and how you’re going to monitor them, for instance.
The beauty of concept maps is that they are easily shareable and are great for breaking abstract concepts into actionable items. It also makes managing efforts much easier and allows people to provide their input easily.
Create a Relaxed and Playful Atmosphere
Swedish researcher Göran Ekvall identified ten corporate atmosphere dimensions that affect creativity, and one of these was fun and playfulness. It’s easy for organizations to want to impose a strict structure on their employees because that’s the traditional way to go, but this is not a productive way to manage employees anymore.
You should know that your employees have options and trying to manage them like cogs in a machine within rigid parameters may keep them in line, but it won’t push them to be creative.
If you want to boost creativity, you need to give your employees some freedom. Instead of gluing them to a desk and having specific times for breaks, give them tasks for the day and let them do whatever they want with the rest of their time. You should still require them to stay on your premises if a remote or hybrid working model doesn’t work for you, however.
Create communal spaces to promote sharing. Make these spaces inviting and give them access to various company-related resources.
Set up a database and have a weekly journal discussing some of the main issues with the business. This is what will foster creative discussions, and, if you have a system for your employees to give suggestions or make them feel like your door is always open, you might be surprised by how quickly and efficiently team members can come up with solutions.
Don’t segregate upper management from ground employees either. A lack of dialogue between upper management and employees creates a disconnect; thinking that executives or managers automatically know the best way to solve problems is wrong. Ground employees often have a better understanding of certain problems, and you need their insight if you want to improve your organization at every level. Inviting regular employees into the decision-making process will also increase the chances that changes will be welcomed by them.
Stress is one of the biggest creativity killers in any organization, and it’s not only a mental phenomenon. As you may or may not know, stress triggers biological processes in the body. One of them is the release of cortisol.
Cortisol in small quantities can be helpful and is related to our fight or flight response. But, in large quantities, cortisol makes it hard to think and leads to brain fog and fatigue.
Some organizations might think that creating healthy spaces and having health and wellness programs are a waste of time and money, but they’re not realizing how much more creative and productive their employees could be if they worked in a more inviting environment.
Create spaces where your employees can retreat and disconnect. Have healthy food around that keeps their blood sugar levels steady. Add plenty of greenery and see if you can increase the amount of natural light that permeates through your premises as both of these things have been correlated with greater creativity and morale.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but heavy bureaucracy can be one of the worst things for innovation in a company. Too many barriers mean that ideas won’t circulate properly, as they have to get through too many gatekeepers. You need to find a way for ideas to reach all decision-makers so that one cannot block their flow.
Having too many rules can also stifle creativity. Bureaucracy and creativity are opposed and stringent rules force employees to work within a narrow box. So, look at rules that you may have and consult your employees to see which rules they feel are limiting or useless.
These are all things that you can do in your organization to encourage creative thinking and the sharing of ideas. The most important thing is to get everyone involved and give them free space to collaborate.