Ask LaToya: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

Ask LaToya

Do you feel like creative thinking is lacking in your organization? Creativity drives innovation, improves problem-solving, and increases productivity – among a host of other benefits to employee engagement, motivation, and teamwork.

This is one of my favorite topics, so I could go on for days about how to encourage creative thinking within your team or organization. But for now, I want to share with you my top 3 tips for sparking creativity:

1) Create Psychological Safety

First and foremost, folks must feel comfortable offering creative thoughts without retribution.  Scan the environment. Can someone offer a “dumb” idea without being ridiculed? Is failure celebrated?

Essentially, do people feel safe to take risks? If not, creating a psychologically safe environment is the very first thing you must do. 

Based on Amy Edmondon’s research, here are a few best practices:

  • Look for ways to invite diverse perspectives into conversations during meetings.
  • Lead with the purpose of the work, not the details of the execution. This gives people space to creatively achieve the purpose as there is no “right way.” 
  • Whenever possible, as the leader, express that you don’t have the answer and encourage the team to help you come up with ideas.

In my opinion, psychological safety is the cornerstone to allowing creativity to flow.

2) Make it Fun

Once you have a safe environment established, consider some ways that you can turn creative thinking into something fun. Maybe have a white board hanging in a common area (or virtually) with a challenge or question (e.g. “What are ways to maintain human connection within the hybrid work setting?”). Leave post-it notes and markers near the space and encourage participation. You may have to throw a few ideas up there to get the party started.

You could even make it a challenge, and offer a small celebration or reward if the board is full by the end of the week!

3) Celebrate Failure

I know, this one may sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. You’re not really celebrating the failure – you’re focusing on the effort and the lesson learned when something doesn’t quite go according to plan.

This will demonstrate to your team that it’s okay to try something different, even if it doesn’t initially work as planned. Think about it – if failures are always met with negativity and reprimand, people will not feel safe to take risks.

(Ok, you got me – this is really just another way to create psychological safety. I’m telling you, it’s important!)

If you want to foster more creative thinking within your team, focus on creating a psychologically safe environment and infusing creative thinking into your regular team practices. When this is done right, you’ll be surprised by how fast the wheels of innovation and productivity start turning!

LaToya Jordan, Leadership Coach

Looking for a customized approach to improve your team dynamics? Learn more about our leadership coaching and organizational consulting programs today!

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