dr carl robinson

The Currency of Success - Interpersonal Intelligence™

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How to Encourage Creative Thinking in Your Organization

The business world is changing at lightning speed. To keep up, your organization needs to stay on its toes. It’s not enough to generate a few good ideas; instead, you need to push for more.

There’s a science behind commissioning your workforce to generate new, creative concepts. You shouldn’t simply ask for ideas and expect that they will be there at your next meeting. Instead, employ these guidelines as you generate ideas for your next big project.

  • Set an idea quota. Let your staff know in advance what you will discuss at your next meeting. Encourage them to come up with 3 to 5 ideas for a project, to solve a problem, meet a goal–whatever is the topic for your meeting. When ideas are generated prior to the meeting, you give your team members time to prepare and make a case for their ideas. This saves time on brainstorming during the meeting, and you’ll be able to take action more quickly.

  • Let your employees share first. Come to the meeting with your own list of ideas, but don’t share them right away. Too many staff members may be apt to agree with you, rather than use their own forward-thinking abilities.

  • Use idea management systems like Imaginatik or Brightidea to capture off-the-cuff ideas.  Even if you’re simply using a shared spreadsheet, allow your staff to brainstorm innovative ideas and get them down on paper—any time. Sometimes the best ideas for new products, streamlining business, or cutting costs happen outside of formal meetings. Then, set up a team to review ideas from time to time. That way, your team’s list doesn’t become stale and the ideas can be put into action. Regular meetings will also show your team that their ideas are valued.
  • Encourage learning. As we get more set in our ways, we tend to get stagnant in our ideas. Encourage your team to stay up to date and do so yourself. Read books relating to your industry, browse magazines outside of your trade, and attend conferences that relate to your market. Better yet, send your management staff and other key employees to conferences as well. The more educated and “fresh” your staff is, the better their ideas will be.
  • Create the right environment. Empower your employees by giving them the information, tools, and freedom they need to be creative. Be honest about your company’s goals so they can feel involved and proud of its success. Encourage mistakes and a little chaos. If you’re too strict on the creative process, your team members may feel stifled.
  • Brag about employees’ creative talents. Whether you are an employee’s immediate supervisor, or you manage a different department, everyone enjoys being recognized. Make sure to praise good ideas and consider doing so to the employee’s supervisor. Not only will you make that person’s day, but you will encourage others to develop more innovative ideas and solutions so they can be praised as well.
  • Build a diverse team. To encourage creativity, pull ideas from team members with different skills, backgrounds, and strengths. Having a diverse team with different perspectives will encourage debate and innovation.

There are so many great ideas out there that have yet to be tried, and if they’re not tried, you’ll never know the result. Look at Newton’s Principia Mathematica or Einstein’s theory of relativity or even Tim Berners-Lee’s development of HTTP, URL and HTML. These all started as simple ideas, but when allowed to develop, all of these ideas changed the world as we know it. Maybe your organization will have the next great idea.


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