How to Cultivate Creativity in Your Team

Thinking outside the box can help team members solve problems, collaborate more effectively and nurture fresh new ideas. In general, creativity can boost overall business performance.

But creativity is generally something that happens organically — it can’t be forced. So how can business leaders cultivate this quality in their employees?

We’ve all heard the research hailing group activities such as team-building exercises as the silver bullet to bonding colleagues, but for those who don’t have the time or resources available to coordinate an off-site adventure, here are some ways to create and maintain a creative culture within your team or organization.

Create a Creative Language

Not to promote the use of jargon, but assembling a common language for team members to use can help spark creativity and collaboration.

According to Forbes, this endeavor should include observation and data collection. “Noticing the outside world and taking inspiration from it builds a ‘cultural cache’ that, along with organically grown thinking, establishes a common creative language for your organization,” the writer says.

The publication goes on to say that employees should be encouraged to pay attention to a few key areas to aid in creating this common language and build a foundation for creativity. These factors include industry trends, news from other brands, design and behaviours of people both inside and outside your industry.

Visualize the Project

Visualization can help on multiple fronts, but it can particularly help managers nurture creative thinking.

Whether you use workflow visualization software like digital kanban boards or simple Post It notes on a blank wall in a conference room, looking at a problem or project from a visual perspective can help shed some light on how to move forward.

Business Insider suggests that this “exercise will help your team complete the first step in problem solving: identifying the problem and the steps that got you to that point.”

Reward Creative Thinking

Incentives and positive reinforcement can go a long way in encouraging creative thinking in your organization.

When a team member puts forward a great idea or creative solution, it only makes sense to reward them for their efforts. But, as Forbes says, make sure you offer up that recognition in a way that works for your corporate culture.

That positive reinforcement could take shape in the form of an annual internal awards ceremony, verbal recognition, a write-up in the company newsletter or even a small token of appreciation such as tickets to an upcoming sports event. Regardless of the reward, this can send the message that creative thinking is encouraged — and that could motivate other workers to engage in the same kind of unorthodox problem solving you’re looking for.