With the rate at which design is storming into businesses today, innovation-minded business leaders are constantly looking for ways to make their teams more creative. We see brands like Google, Airbnb, and Zappos grow and nurture company cultures that encourage creativity within their teams, as a result, these teams are able to successfully and innovatively tackle challenges around work processes and delivery of great product and service solutions that customers gravitate towards.
For any leader desirous of turning their team into a creative force, here are 4 things you can start to try out right away:
1. Cultivate a creative environment
This is very important for anyone who wants to infuse a mindset of creativity into their team. One of the easiest ways to do this is building flexible work areas that your team can customize to fit their working style. Let’s say, for example, you have an open-plan office space, having private spaces sectioned off, where people can sit alone whenever they need a quiet environment to help them focus. This goes a long way for team members as they go about their day-to-day tasks.
Today you find that quite a number of companies have infused this into how they design their workspace. This is because having that ‘unrestrained environment’ helps people flex their creative juices.
2. Foster Play
Global companies like Google, LinkedIn, encourage play during work. Encouraging an environment of play has been shown to improve employees’ cognitive functions, and workplace satisfaction.
Another great attribute of play in the workplace is that it opens your employees’ minds to new concepts as they carry out their regular tasks and go about solving problems at work.
3. Encourage Failure
Now I know at first this doesn't sound right, but an environment that allows for trial and error opens up opportunities for employees to improve.
Failure is a term most business leaders probably don’t like to hear, however allowing employees to explore new and unexpected avenues, within well-set boundaries (read a risk-managed environment), innovative ideas are birthed.
When your team knows that failing doesn’t lead them out the door, it encourages them to try new things. This allowance allows employees to learn from their mistakes, giving them creative confidence to explore new and out-of-the-box solutions.
IDEO, a global innovation and design firm, encourages failure within their company, one of their values is ‘Learn from Failure’.
Credit: The Little Book of IDEO
Encouraging your employees to ‘fail’ doesn’t mean condoning a lackadaisical culture, it means encouraging people to be confident enough to push boundaries, knowing that innovation occurs as a result of going outside of typical constraints. The great thing about this approach is that failure will do one of two things: you’ll either learn from failing (if processes to learn from ‘failure’ have been set up), or you’ll come up with something entirely new that could potentially disrupt the market and positively impact your business.
4. Encourage Employees to Learn New Things
Most people are comfortable with what they know and don’t necessarily see the need to learn new things. The unwillingness to learn new approaches is a huge disadvantage to anyone. This is because the lack of taking in new things might result in a corresponding lack of knowledge to address challenges and proffer solutions when required. This can sometimes make it hard for them to carry out their tasks effectively.
Encouraging employees to learn new skills and processes that may or may not be directly related to what they do, helps them approach challenges better. A good example is an engineer taking what he understands about the human eye and then building a camera with that understanding. Those two concepts of ‘the camera and the human eye’, may seem unrelated, but the principles are similar if not the same.
To build a team that is truly creative, you must;
- Involve the leadership in your creative build-up.
- Deliberately set policies that allow for a creative environment.
- Give opportunities and the flexibility to employees to explore.
If there are ways you have made your team deliver more creativity in solutions and culture, do share with us in the comments section. Also do share with teams and leaders who you think will benefit from this. Thanks.