Where does creative inspiration come from?
Offices around the world are changing in search of the elusive creative spark, and the signs of this shift are everywhere. Cubicles are being replaced with free flowing, open offices; drab workspaces are being repainted with vibrant colors; more and more out-of-the-box activities, from ping-pong to free snacks, are popping up in break rooms. While all of these changes may be fun, they beg the question:
Can cosmetic changes alone really boost team creativity?
Inspiration blossoms when teams take the process seriously. First and foremost, teams need to make time to be creative! Often, creativity can be an afterthought, but it takes a commitment, of both time and resources, in order to create an environment where imaginations can thrive.
If you’re searching for a creative surge in your office, consider these techniques to get things started:
Brainstorm, the Right Way
If you’ve been in an office or classroom in the last twenty years, odds are you’ve experienced brainstorming in one way or another. Depending on the quality of your experience, reactions to the thought of a brainstorm can range from an annoyed groan to utter dread.
In reality, a lot of the negativity surrounding brainstorming comes from these sessions not being done properly. All too often, what’s meant to be a free-flowing exchange of ideas devolves into a shouting match, punctuated by negativity.
Brainstorm is a technique that should be used when your team needs to find a great solution to a known problem. The most important aspect of this process is that a large quantity of ideas should be generated. To achieve this, participants must avoid any criticism; remove “although” and “but” from your vocabulary! Invite the wildest ideas possible, even if they aren’t feasible. Only when you’ve gathered as many ideas as the team can generate can you start combining and improving upon these ideas.
A to Z
Language is a powerful thing. While words can open up our imagination, they can also restrict the way we think. Overused words and the day-to-day jargon your role requires can restrict thought processes and close the brain off to creativity. To break these constrictions, considering having an A to Z session with your team.
In this exercise, write the letters of the alphabet on a white board from A to Z, with the subject at hand clearly written across the top. Then, take suggestions from across the team for words that apply for each letter and relate to that subject. For example, if the subject was, “The waffle irons need rebranding” a suggestion for “s” could be, “syrup.”
Retreading your ABCs might seem silly at first, but having to fill in something for each letters can help you to look at the problem differently. The results might just surprise you (especially when you get to “z”!)
The human brain is a confusing web of connections. When writer’s block creeps in, it can feel like your brain is in a fog, obscuring these connections and leaving sparks to sputter. An impressively effective tool for clearing out this fog is mind mapping.
Essentially, a mind map is a visual diagram that connects a bunch of information around one big idea. It starts by plotting the central idea in the center of a blank page, white board or other canvas. This is best done through a visual representation, such as a picture or video. From this starting point, branches are drawn out in all directions, with each link connecting to the next logical idea that links back to the main idea.
By visually mapping the connections our minds make between concepts, we can better understand our teams’ processes towards creative solutions.
These techniques can be powerful when you’re looking to get creative, but they are only effective when the ideas you generate are put to work! Don’t let your work go to waste; keep track of everything you create during creative sessions, and make sure these great ideas come with a plan for implementation.
How do you get creative at work? Join the brainstorming session in the comments!