You've heard the talk, read the book, bought the T-shirt but what practical steps can you take on Monday morning to help creativity to flourish?
To start off, here are a few ideas. However with your new found idea generation skills, you should be able to think of lots more.
- Create space (physical and time) for idea generation
- By cutting down on non essential meetings
- Avoiding micro managing staff
- Allowing time for ‘play' or to make mistakes (within reason)
- Allowing interaction between individuals (at the coffee machine or water cooler).
- Adopt simple techniques for modifying existing products or services
- Think about having after action reviews to ensure that you avoid re-inventing the wheel.
- Look at reward systems to encourage know-how to be shared and for salaries and bonuses to promote team working.
- Hold curiosity meetings where people are allowed to ask ‘What if?'
Small organisations without boards could consider having an informal board of trusted acquaintances who will give advice in return for a meal, say.
Start looking at methods of gathering ideas that will encourage new ideas not just complaints (avoid the baggage of the traditional suggestion box). Ensure that contributions are recognised and that the process is transparent.
So what? You may say, these are not very creative. Well they are if you have been doing something else. Creative or alternative thinking does not mean playing with brightly coloured balls all day long. It means selecting appropriate techniques and methods from as wide a variety as possible and matching them to the task in hand to get the best results possible. Another reason to expand your management toolbox is to engage the widest audience possible. That person who yawns at meetings where documents are discussed might participate where a storyboard is used. Someone whose help you seek may apparently talk in riddles but they may in fact be using metaphor, try using their language.
One other thing to remember, just because the words ‘problem solving' are used it does not mean that you have to have a problem to be solved. You may need to reframe a situation i.e. get another perspective, either to be able to change it or make sure that you have left nothing out.
Let's look at the categories that techniques fall into:
Exploring/defining - such techniques can be used to try and find solutions to problems but they can also be used to find out more about an individual or group of people or try to create a shared understanding of a situation with abstract boundaries such as a vision or mission statement.
Idea generation - these techniques do exactly what it says on the tin. Brainstorming type techniques can be used to generate a large number of possibilities whilst nominal group techniques or modelling can create a shared idea amongst a group of people.
Screening - instead of just sitting around trying to vote for a preferred solution or rely on gut feel, there are a number of techniques that can help you such as bullet proofing.
Planning and prioritising - not quite planning in the true sense of the word but some of the screening techniques can help you prioritise and something like a storyboard is actually a plan (but without the small print) which can be turned into a readable document or used as a storyboard for PR or communications purposes.