How to create the right conditions for creativity and innovation to become part of your team’s DNA. Have you ever wondered why it can be so challenging, to get a team of people to work together, solve problems, innovate and get creative?
Even the office environment can stifle creativity, being aware of this can make all the difference. Sometimes you need to just get out of your team area and into a different environment or better still switch it up and head outside into the nearest park to ensure creativity happens. This can be rewarding.
How you show up each day and lead your team, can massively impact how creative your people are willing to be.
The normal pressure of any business can be challenging, however the very thing that most companies get wrong, is how much they feel the need to control their people. Rather than allowing room for play and activities that do not obviously connect to their role or KPIs. By creating space for teams to explore their creative side, with nothing on the agenda other than for fun or curiosity, you are allowing them to flex creative muscle.
We are all inherently creative.
Whether we believe it or not, creativity is a big part of what makes us human and it nourishes us, does wonders for our mental health and well being …
There are also many tangible benefits to allowing play and creativity into the workplace. It starts to become part of your company’s culture and with the right actions and people in place, it can lead to high performance, innovation and wonderful ideas coming from many different places that you might not have thought possible.
What I have noticed throughout my career, as both a musician and a leader, is that once you create the right conditions within a team or a group of people you have the basic building blocks for creativity and innovation to thrive. Something truly wonderful happens when a group of people get their creative juices flowing and start sharing their ideas freely. You get the sum of all parts becoming something bigger than anything one individual could have achieved alone. I will never get bored of being present in a room when it just clicks into place and suddenly ideas take shape and seemingly appear out of nowhere.
It may seem like magic, however we humans all have the capacity to create and solve even the most challenging and complex problems.
How can we stimulate creativity and innovation in any team?
People can only innovate, get creative and disrupt if they feel safe, listened to and are allowed to get things wrong and are able to fail often. To activate and stimulate creativity with a group of people, they need to be able to collaborate, as a group. There is a need to explore their creative and critical thinking skills together, while working towards a common goal/purpose/mission.
Here is one solution I call the Collaboration Catalyst Model. It is a set of conditions that when met can create the right environment for creativity and innovation to flourish in any team.
Psychological Safety + Curiosity and Playfulness + Human Connection = Creativity, Innovation and Disruption
- Psychological safety – Make people feel safe enough to feel like their ideas are welcome by engaging with them and listening to what they have to say. Allow wiggle room for failure, with support and feedback, so the whole group can learn as they move forward together. By creating a fertile and safe environment, you are planting the seeds of innovation to grow as your team grows and flexes their creative and collaborative muscles.
- Curiosity and Playfulness – This can be a tricky one in the context of a team or workplace. Curiosity and playfulness doesn’t mean acting like a child, it simply means being curious about how to make things better and being free to experiment. Allow people to explore all the options, however unrealistic or crazy they may sound at first. Set aside time for your team to gel and play together outside of the normal constraints of the office. This creates emotional bonds and trust amongst your team. Give your team a mission to experiment, remix and refine their ideas. You will be surprised by the results.
- Human Connection – Connecting with others (human connection) to tackle a problem, build something new or simply sharing ideas. Set clear goals for your team (the why) and allow creative freedom to explore how they achieve them as a group. Celebrate your creative milestones and successes, so that everyone remembers why they did what they did. This will lead to more meaningful engagements in the future, curiosity to grow and a mindset for innovation.
Even in these challenging times when most of us are working from home, working 100% remotely, can have a positive impact on our creativity. Don’t just take my word for it, get curious, allow your’s and your team’s creativity to flourish.
All you need to do is create psychological safety, allow people to be playful and embrace what it is to be human by exploring your creativity and critical thinking skills together.