Your company needs a solid dose of creativity every day. I’m not just talking about the art department either, although that’s the obvious place to start. How your team solves problems, rises to challenges, and pushes past their limits all have to do with the amount of creativity they have in their bank. So how do you keep that drive alive? Read on my friend…
- End Roadblocks. To foster creative solutions you need an atmosphere where ideas are welcomed. If you have people at your company that make all the decisions or poo-poo anyone that brings up an idea on how to resolve a challenging situation, then your staff is more likely than not to keep their mouth shut. The atmosphere you want to create is one of “anything goes” and “let’s hear it”. Maybe you won’t act on every idea, but simply having the discussion can lead you down a path that wouldn’t normally be trod. Micro-managers are the bane of creative people. If that control freak is you, take a deep breath and let your team start handling challenges and give up some control. It will be ok, trust me.
- Keep Busy. I don’t know about you, but I do my best work when I am overloaded. I really like it when I have multiple projects going, deadlines are looming and there is a lot at stake. My creative mind works best when I’m juggling different tasks, and while I’m working on one thing I’m often thinking about another. I believe that this cross pollination will often produce better results. When things are a little calmer, and I actually have more time on projects is when I lose focus. Pushing the limits is always a good thing for me.
- Feedback. Want to motivate and encourage your team? Provide positive feedback and encouragement. It’s tough sledding to come up with better ways to do anything if you are surrounded by negativity. Creative people thrive on others being impacted by their ideas. Good discussions and dialog about challenges foster even more creative thinking. It’s like adding fuel to the fire.
- Yes Men. Surrounding yourself with clones is a great way to kill any creative spark. Seek and hire people with diverse backgrounds and talents. You want a rich mix of skills, life experiences, and attitudes. Dig up people that think differently than you and encourage them to add their ingredients to the stew. Thomas Edison was famous for getting all different types of people to assist him with his research – electricians, plumbers, sculptors, engineers, accountants, etc. They each brought something to the table and were able to look at problems from different perspectives.
- Give yourself permission to fail. In a rut? Try something new and allow yourself or your team to fail. How many famous inventions were created by accident on the way to discover something else? The journey is what’s worthwhile. Try something. Fail. Try something else. Repeat and keep going. Learn from it, and tweak things until you achieve your desired results.
- Research. What’s out there that can help? For graphic artists: I used to keep a notebook with pages and examples of great stuff I ripped out of magazines and other sources that showed different textures, shapes, layouts, colors or fun examples for inspiration. Now I just use Pinterest. To me, it’s always amazing that when I get stuck on an idea or layout I can find something that will work looking through this material. Here’s a link to my Design board: http://pinterest.com/atkinsontshirt/design/
- Be silly. Being silly is fun. Loosen up!! Life shouldn’t be so serious, and neither should you. A great way to add some creative zest is to act like a goofball. To multiply the effect, be silly with others. There are no rules!! Get out of your own way and laugh!
- Don’t worry about what others may think. Over the years I’ve taught art classes and workshops on watercolor or drawing. At first people are basically scared of the blank white paper and making that first black mark on it. “If it’s not perfect, what will others think of me?” Compare that to seasoned artists that just immediately splash a gigantic broad stroke of color on the paper to get started. They don’t care what you think. They armor themselves with the attitude that pushes their creativity forward. Go ahead – make your mark!! Have that inner strength in all that you do.
- Staying on the sidelines. Get involved! Want to push your creativity to the max? Try helping someone else with a project, volunteering for a charity, take a class, or learn a new skill. Getting up and out of your chair and involved in other things enhances the opportunities presented to you. Life doesn’t come to you – you have to go get it. Learning from these experiences can be like a super-vitamin to your creative system. Go for it!!
- Stop thinking. Sometimes your brain just gets in the way. Have you ever thought of a great idea in the shower, lying in bed, or at the gym when working out? The impetus for this article occurred to me when I was sweating like a freak on a rowing machine at my gym last week. Your subconscious mind takes over and will shoot you a good idea every now and again. The trick is to do something with them.
- Bonus – Ask for help. That’s right. Admit that you don’t know everything and seek guidance and support from someone else. Collaborate. Let an expert’s ideas help shape your original idea into something better. Or, bring in a few other people and work on the project together equally. Let their ideas shape how it comes out.
Creative thinking isn’t limited to just artistic types. Sometimes, it’s just getting out of your own way and pulling down the barriers of why you think something won’t work. Explore different alternatives. There isn’t a correct answer, just one you haven’t tried yet.
If you need some creative thinking help with your company, I’d love to get involved. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s brainstorm together about how I can help you achieve success.
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