5 Strategies To Supercharge Your Team’s Creative Thinking

 

Between high-octane working days and streamlining workflows to maximise productivity, squeezing your creative juices when it’s crunch time can start to feel a little like trying to squeeze a dried prune. It’s just not working.

Part of the problem is that creativity tends to be conceptualised as a process that exists on the opposite end of the spectrum from productivity, which heightens resistance when you’re trying to switch gears between the two.

 

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The key is to hit that sweet spot between the two extremes, otherwise known as “controlled chaos”– here’s how.

Solidify your team’s commitment to innovation in the workplace: take SSA Academy’s WSQ course in fostering initiative and enterprise in teams today.

 

1. Build cognitively diverse teams



When it comes to boosting creativity, one of the biggest pitfalls of group processes is having a homogenous team that thinks and sees things identically.

That alone can make it exponentially difficult to practice the mental agility and flexibility that’s required for creative thinking.

 

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  • Put together a team which has different modes of thinking when it comes to problem-solving and information processing
  • If you already have a team, look at how you can improve their thought processes by encouraging their mental agility in different ways, like
    • perspective switching, or
    • pattern vs. detail thinking. 

2. Have clarity of purpose


Creativity can actually be facilitated–not impeded–by direction.

Each time you sit down for a brainstorming session or some such creative process with your team, preface the meeting by establishing the exact purpose of coming together to think creatively.

Having a defined problem statement, for example “We need a better way to ___ because ___” goes a long way in structuring your team’s thinking.

 

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When formulating your problem statement: 

  • Ask what you’re trying to achieve? What is the problem you’re trying to solve with creativity? 
  • Ensure that it’s specific enough without being too niche to the point where it obstructs creativity.  

3. Cultivate a growth mindset to failure


Harbouring a risk-averse mindset greatly discourages creativity and innovation; you’re more likely to stick to the status quo instead of thinking of fresh, new, and unprecedented solutions to the problem at hand.

Singapore, in particular, is still a relatively risk-averse culture, which doesn’t create a very conducive atmosphere for innovation.

 

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Since failures are an inevitable and necessary part of the creative process, discourage being afraid of failing by:

  • Creating a work culture that doesn’t stigmatise failure
  • Reframing the way failures are seen 


“I have not failed. I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” – Thomas Edison

 

4. Encourage horizontal & vertical thinking at different times


Different ways of thinking are more useful in different stages of the creative process.

 

Idea Generation stage


When you’re still brainstorming ideas and generating prospective solutions without too much consideration for their implications, horizontal thinking, which emphasises breadth in output, is more effective in the early stages of the creative process.

 

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To facilitate horizontal thinking:

  • Create a non-judgmental, open setting where everyone is free to question established processes
  • Do away with organisational hierarchies during the session–it can make team members hesitate before sharing ideas

 

Idea Evaluation stage


When you start to narrow things down and evaluating the ideas based on their practicality, efficiency, and other criteria, vertical thinking will serve you better since it emphasises depth.

 

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To facilitate vertical thinking, encourage your team to think critically, e.g.:

  • How each creative solution would work at every stage of the user experience
  • Looking at hard facts and evidence to support the execution of said solution. 

5. Create room for test runs



Idea generation will amount to nothing if there isn’t enough time or space to properly test out the viable ideas.

An organisational commitment to experimentation aids creativity by leaps and bounds, as exemplified in various policies at top companies like Google.

How this works in your organisation will depend on your specific situation, but there are several ways to ensure that your team has what they need to tinker around or conduct trial runs for their creative projects.

 

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Some ways to do this:

  • Eliminating unnecessary red tape
  • Having a physical space dedicated to innovation e.g. Microsoft’s The Garage
  • Scheduling dedicated time for creative projects e.g. Google’s 20% policy or 3M’s 15% policy

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