Creative thinking doesn’t come naturally to everyone – but with a bit of encouragement and a few changes to your working practices, you can help boost your teams’ creativity.
Small business often have to sacrifice a lot to meet deadlines, make sure the business is running smoothly, and prevent finances going into the red. This often means getting the job done is favoured over creative thinking.
But there are ways to foster creativity in your business that don’t take up time and money.
Here are 5 of the best ways…
1. Hire from various backgrounds
When you’re building your team, there is often an unconscious bias to hire people like yourself. It makes sense as you can read them better and have a greater understanding of their background and working habits. But this can end up creating teams that all think the same.
Try making your hiring more diverse in every way. This could mean a better balance between men and women, people from different sociological backgrounds, and even people from different sectors and industries. With different backgrounds come new ideas and ways of thinking.
2. Reward success
Taking creative risks can be scary, especially if people think they’re going to be punished if they don’t succeed. But many of the best businesses take the opposite approach. They actively encourage risk taking by reward success instead of punishing failure.
If someone has a new idea, let them run with it and see where it goes. If it doesn’t go anywhere, then forget about it. Don’t dwell on the things that don’t work, embrace the ideas that do.
3. Give freedom
Creativity often requires freedom – both in terms of being able to explore the ideas and having the free time to do so. If someone comes to you with a new proposal, try and free up the time so they can explore it fully.
If people know that they will have the freedom to explore their ideas, they’re more likely to come up with new ones that could help improve your business.
4. Mix things up
Offices can often become stagnant. People might have been working there for years, doing the same job with the same people. While this might be an effective way to keep productivity at a steady level, it’s not one that will foster creativity.
Once a month, try getting people to sit in with other departments – even if it’s only for a morning. Or switch the seating arrangement around so people are talking to others.
Another way to make people think differently about their work is to ask them to present it in a different way. If they usually email a word document over, ask them to make it into a PowerPoint presentation – it’ll make them look at their work in a different way.
5. Change your location
Finally, if all else fails, get everyone out of the office for a while. A change of scenery can help get people to diversify their thinking. This could be a meeting in a local restaurant, or a walk around the block while you discuss a project.
If you’ve got a big meeting, why not hire a meeting room somewhere else for the afternoon.
An added advantage of getting everyone out together is that it also increases the social aspect, getting people talking to one another. This can help spark new ideas as well.