Creativity is fundamental in business, where innovation leads to greater success.
Unfortunately, it's not always easy to make creative breakthroughs in accordance with stressful deadlines. If you'd like to cultivate a better environment for creative thought, consider the following tips for stimulating innovative ideas.
Planting Seeds of Innovation
According to researchers at Harvard University, comprehensive meta-analysis suggests the following factors boost greater innovation and creativity:
A shared compelling vision that creates motivation and meaning for team members
Goal interdependence, where team members act to create mutual benefit
Support for innovation, including rewards for new ideas and their implementation
A task orientation that manifests as a shared concern for excellence
Strong communication between team members and employees/managers outside the project
A cohesive team that promotes a psychologically safe environment to challenge the status quo and each other
While these factors help to create an organization that encourages innovation, there are also some internal strategies teams can use to spur creativity. These include:
Diversifying input. In all but the rarest of instances, the lone creative genius is a myth. The vast majority of creative ideas involve input from multiple people with varying attributes. It's always best to get ideas from several people with differing talents, skills and backgrounds. As long as they have similar motivations and values, diverse teams can be much more creative than individuals.
Unplugging from the goal. Many entrepreneurs feel compelled to ceaselessly grind away until they've achieved their goals. While successful businesses might be built through grit and hard work, novel ideas don't always come this way. To create a fertile environment for creativity, you need to allow occasional breaks to relax, rest and recharge. Many times, creative breakthroughs actually occur when people are engaged in unrelated activities outside the office.
Setting the mood. According to a study appearing in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, dimmer lighting can encourage innovative thinking by reducing inhibitions, while eliciting feelings of freedom and self-determination.
Letting the sunshine in. Researchers at Central Michigan University found that workers had better attitudes when exposed to more sunlight. If you're trying to cultivate creativity in a dark, windowless meeting room, consider opening the shades or taking the team outside.
Writing everything down. Because inspiration can come at any moment, it's important to carry a notebook or voice recorder wherever you go. You should also encourage team members to record their ideas, even if they seem irrelevant or incomplete. These notes can serve to inspire other team members, who may have ways to build on basic ideas in unexpected ways.
A Broader Approach to Creativity
Innovation is more than just coming up with a fresh idea; it’s a complicated process that involves many players and components. With a few thoughtful strategies, you can cultivate a more fertile environment where innovation is more likely to flourish.
At the same time, you should also assess your current operational structure to see where you might be stifling creative thought. Does your staff lack diversity? Do you openly encourage new ideas that challenge the status quo? Take the time to carefully assess your work environment and organizational structure. By eliminating just a few obvious barriers, you can unleash your team's creativity to help push your business forward.