Typically there are three things that stop us being creative at work.
- There’s no imperative to think differently.
- We’re stuck in old habits of how we do things.
- We don’t have a culture of creativity at work that helps ideas spread
Well these untypical times have sorted out 1 and 2 for us. And we have a unique opportunity to fix number 3.
But here’s the challenge… Creativity thrives when we kick ideas around in groups. Not just because we get multiple brains bringing fresh perspectives, but because creativity is infectious. We encourage each other to let the imagination run free. We energize each other and empower each other to bravely push an idea further than we’d dare, sat in a room on our own. But that’s where we find ourselves right now. Social distancing is vital to stop us catching this damned virus. But if we’re not careful it’ll stop us spreading great ideas too; just when we most need to be able to think differently about what we do, how we work and what our customers and consumers might want from us.
Chances are your whole team is starting to get to grips with the lockdown and finding new ways to work, new ways to keep their kids entertained and educated and new ways of working together. We’re all having to readjust to a new reality; at least in the short term, and quite likely for the medium and long term too. It’s not easy. There are real challenges. No doubt. But there are also new opportunities. And the one big one that I’m working with teams on is how to use this unusual time to reinvent the old ‘business as usual’.
This is a moment when our collective imaginations can be unleashed and directed towards coming up with new ideas, new ways of doing things, new ways to thrive as the new world emerges. Because we’re having to think differently, and there’s nothing to stop us.
But we need to make sure our teams, our colleagues, our leaders are equipped with the tools, the processes, the attitude to encourage and harness our collective creativity.
Start by thinking about where you bounce ideas around together. What is your new office kitchen, the new ‘water cooler’, the place where people bump into each other and informally share thoughts and ideas? Can you find a new virtual place where you can catch ideas off each other?
Think about your communication… Do you have the right common language around creativity so everyone knows how to signal when they want help building an idea and and the different language to use when they want their idea judged with a yes or no?
Do you have a way to quickly reprioritise the challenges your facing, so teams know which ideas are going to be valued and acted on, even though new challenges arise at an unprecedented speed?
Do your teams feel they have permission to think differently, to suggest changes in this changing world? And do they know how to nurture those ideas, who to share them with and how to turn ideas into actions?
Developing and embedding a culture of creativity requires leadership. You need a process, a common language, a way of doing things that suits your organisation.
Think about it. Creativity is infectious. If new thoughts and ideas aren’t being passed around amongst your team, maybe it’s time for a rethink.