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Unleash team creativity to boost mood and ideas

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    Without creativity there are no ideas, and without ideas organisations and the people within them will stagnate and neither will reach any sort of fulfilment. We spend so much of our lives at work that we want our work to be as fulfilling as possible. Creativity plays a key role in providing this fulfilment. And it goes without saying that we need creativity right now to design and innovate our way out of COVID-19 and stagnation.

    We also know from the author of Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that human beings are at their happiest (in flow, or ‘the zone’) when they are creating. People actually long to express their creativity, and when we can’t we’re more likely to feel disengaged, become unproductive and even feel depressed.

    So, how do you unleash your team’s creativity to be in flow more often and increase engagement, productivity, ideas and happiness? What helps is recognising the key blockers to creativity and how to overcome them. Four of the biggest blockers to individual and team creativity are behaviours, the brain, state and space. Let’s take a look at this in more detail:

    Creativity Blocker 1: Behaviours

    Our everyday business behaviour is not conducive to creativity. It’s been refined over the years to help us in a fast-paced world in which swift analysis and making fast decisions based on sound evidence is king. It involves elements of criticism and relies on critical reasoning skills when we are assessing one idea or recommendation versus another. It’s not that this approach is wrong; it’s just not right for creativity.

    In the early stages of the creative process, ideas are still just seedlings and aren’t ready for judging. We need to build on them further before we can confidently judge which are the good or bad ideas.

    When you are working in the creative phase you need to ask everyone to suspend their typical business-world behaviours and take these steps to promote creativity:

    • Suspend your judgment so you can then…
    • understand each other’s ideas, in order to…
    • build on each other’s ideas to come up with more breakthrough solutions.

    Creativity Blocker 2: The brain

    Most of us naturally think in a linear and analytical way. This is because the brain is a massive self-organising storage device, like all the folders on your desktop or shared drive. It’s a place where logic presides.

    When you ask your brain to think of an idea, say a new type of taxi service, then it immediately goes into its file on taxis. And what does it find in there? All the experiences you’ve had with regard to taxis. And none of it is new thinking.

    What you have to do is trick your brain to go to a different file and find some different stimulus to inspire new ideas. For example, you could come up with new ideas by ‘breaking the rules’ and challenging the status quo of the taxi industry. One ‘rule’ for the taxi industry used to be that you had to wait outside your location until the taxi arrived. Uber broke this rule through the development of an ETA tracking device on its app. Right now we are having to break the rules of working, collaboration, distributing our goods and services, and in some cases even our entire business models.

    Creativity Blocker 3: State

    If your state feels stuck, then ideas are impossible. During COVID-19, how we are feeling emotionally, physically, mentally and even spiritually is very important. Some of us are feeling more in flow working from home, while others are not due to lack of socialisation and face-to-face collaboration.

    The key to changing your state is moving. Not only does physical activity promote feel-good endorphins but it jolts our mind from its customary groove, and a walk outdoors can also inject some freshness and stimulate new ideas. We can take this further by being really playful and encouraging self-expression, which opens up our creative minds, giving us access to our own creative genius.

    Creativity Blocker 4: Space

    One of the biggest triggers of our state and creativity is the environment or space we are in. Many of our work-places, including our work-from-home set-ups, are designed for meetings and getting stuff done rather than being creative. It is important that we have spaces that encourage creativity and collaboration in all our flexi-working environments (both physical and virtual).

    A space for creativity is one in which you can be yourself, get away from day-to-day distractions and noise, be inspired and become totally engrossed in the work you are doing. It could be a quiet room in your house or a local cafe.

    Right now, creativity is really important. It will not only help organisations come out of COVID-19 in a better shape but also boost team productivity and happiness.

    Nathan Baird is the founder of customer-driven innovation and growth firm Methodry and author of Innovator’s Playbook: How to Create Great Products, Services and Experiences that your Customers will Love.

    Original Article