Creating Successful Creativity for Office-Based SME Teams

How many times have you seen Leaders and Managers build a great brick wall where new ideas are concerned, which seems impermeable? 

What does that do to morale and employee engagement? 

Well, it stifles it and eventually, team members just switch off.  In turn, the business doesn’t move with the times nor does it evolve to create new business and new links.  It stops performance improvements and creates apathy with its staff.

I love seeing employees enthused and sharing ideas.  I’ve recently been involved with business process re-engineering workshops which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed through the enthusiasm of the employees wanting to be innovative.  It’s a real buzz to see team members coming up with creative ideas and wanting to put them into action.

Some tips to start creativity in your teams:

Tip 1

Encourage the team members to share problems and issues.  Capture these so they don’t get lost.  One good problem-solving tool is “3Cs” – Concern, cause and countermeasure.  There are several videos on YouTube that can get you started – I like this video

Tip 2

When team members tell you about the problems, actually stop and listen.  Acknowledge their concerns, asking for evidence of how often the problem occurs.  Then make sure you follow through on the issue, either by taking it forward and keeping the team in the loop with what’s happening (even better if you can involve them or give responsibility to one of the team to take it forward).  If it is decided no action is needed then do tell the team member and/or the team with a clear explanation.  Either way, make sure you give feedback and acknowledge their contributions.  That way you don’t squash their enthusiasm and willingness to make the business a success.

Tip 3

When you need the team and business to be innovative or solve a problem, make time for the employees to brainstorm.  There are a variety of methods for brainstorming and really it’s what works best for you and the team.  It’s a technique for generating ideas in small groups. Firstly with the group share the opportunity that is to be brainstormed, setting out the ground rules.  I find it best to use post-it notes where people have 10 minutes to write their ideas.  To avoid people making negative comments such as “that won’t work” I use silent brainstorming where people write their ideas down without discussion.

Once you have got sufficient post-its written the facilitator collates into themes (displayed centrally on a flip chart) and then creates a discussion around each suggestion and theme.

Brain storming can be carried out electronically if you have a virtual team. There are a variety of tools to use from Microsoft Teams Whiteboards to Google Jam Boards

Tip 4

Demonstrate your openness to new ideas by challenging people about the way they do things and what they are doing and in return urge them to challenge you.  On recent visits to the shop floor, I’ve often asked why do they do it this way and frequently I’ve had the answer…that’s the way it has always been done around here.  Going and getting involved opens up the communication channels and makes the employees realise you are interested in them and the work and makes them come up with better ways of doing the work.

Tip 5

Another tool I’ve found useful lately is mind-mapping (initiated by Tony Buzan).  You start with the subject at the centre –make it as artistic as you like.  You then let your mind wander around the main themes radiating out with thick lines from the central subject.  From then you lead out with other thoughts with thinner lines.

For this to work well set the paper landscape and start with a coloured image in the centre.  Make sure you get the central image correct before going any further.  If you struggle with the image use a word or two instead that sums up the idea or thought.

There are various methods for drawing mind maps so remember this is for you to generate creativity, so mind-map in a way that you feel comfortable with. A good tool that is online for this method is MindMeister.

Good luck with building creativity for yourself and your teams.  I hope you find these tips useful.

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