Groups need creativity. It helps them solve problems, develop products, and improve productivity. So how do you put a creative spark into a group that doesn’t seem to have any?
Researchers have discovered only one significant characteristic between people who are and are not creative. It is their self-perceptions about how creative they are. Everybody has the capacity to be creative. Some choose to use it and others do not. The challenge is not to make the group more creative. Rather it is to help them recognize their own creative potential. Try some of these ideas.
- State Problems Clearly. Creativity is nothing more than finding a novel solution to a problem. The trick is to make sure everyone knows and understands what the problem is that needs to be solved. The more specific you can be, the better. For example, tell people that your boss has asked for the delivery date on your current project to be shortened from six months to five. Tell them you need their help to solve this problem, and give them a day or two to get back to you with ideas.
- Reinforce Creativity. When you see people do anything that is creative, make sure you recognize it. The creativity might be an interesting idea, a new method of doing the work, or a skillful response during a thorny conversation. The more times you catch people being creative, the more they will begin to believe in their own creative powers.
- Deal with Inhibitors. If people are not as creative as you like, it is probably because of the environment. Assess your own behavior. Are you doing or saying things that might keep people from taking risks? Are there negative people on the team who act as wet blankets? Are people so bogged down with work that they are too exhausted to offer new ideas for fear that it might make them even busier? There are many barriers to creativity. You need to identify them and remove them. Only then can the ideas begin to flow freely.