Companies will often list “creative thinking” as a desired skill in their job ads. Have you ever paused to consider why? How does creative thinking benefit a company, and why is it so important in the workplace?
Let’s find out!
Why Is Creative Thinking Important?
There are many benefits to improving the creative thinking abilities of your staff. They include:
Creative thinking helps solve complex problems, especially in industries like marketing, sales, or development. It allows you to approach an issue from a new angle and come up with potentially completely original solutions.
Creativity is also contagious and will prove to be an inspiration to the rest of your team. It will improve collaboration as well, as people are motivated to work together to come up with something unique.
Improving Employee Retention
Workplaces that foster creativity are also more desirable to employees, and they tend to attract the best candidates for a position. As people take ownership of their roles, being allowed to come up with creative solutions, they tend to like their job more and are less likely to look for another one.
There is no innovation without creativity. While one can argue that its main components are utility and originality, it simply cannot be achieved without creative thinking. Workplaces that are innovative often tend to be more successful as well.
Creative thinking is also a great way to prevent boredom at work. It pushes employees to step out of their routine, and often their comfort zone, which keeps them engaged and makes them more productive.
Creative work also requires more motivation and emotional involvement, which makes employees more invested and more likely to succeed. As they are no longer focusing on the outcome per se, but rather on the way to get something done, they are able to work in a more stress-free environment.
By allowing and encouraging your employees to think creatively, you will see your business grow. You do have to be mindful of the fact that creativity takes time and that it can’t be forced.
Don’t lock a team in a room and expect them to come out of it with a creative solution. Promote and bolster creativity in the following ways, and the benefits will soon become apparent:
Provide the Time and Space for Creativity
Creative ideas can be born out of idleness as well as out of necessity. In other words, you can both plan and organize series of creative meetings and provide longer deadlines and more flexibility when employees want to work on a creative solution.
The first option is quite straightforward. Put creative meetings in your staff’s calendar and give them a task to work on. Don’t expect a solution immediately. Even if there is no specific problem you need them to solve, give them a topic to provide a clear goal.
Encourage your staff to share their ideas and processes with you. When someone needs more time and space to get creative, take something off their plate and let them work from home if they need to.
Play Creative Games as a Team
Playing any type of creative or problem-solving game as a team is a great way to encourage staff to get their creative hats on and to have some fun with a non-work related problem. It’s also a great way to promote teamwork. And if you throw a small reward into the mix, you can also foster healthy competition.
Scrabble and Words With Friends, for example, are fantastic games for this purpose. By using an unscrambling word tool, you can have a lot of fun with all kinds of anagrams and encourage a lot of creativity. You can also paint, play Fortnite, and solve puzzles or quizzes.
Write Ideas Down
Whenever someone comes up with an idea, make sure it’s written down. Even if you can’t use it right away, there may come a time when you can, or it can serve as the foundation for something else.
Also make sure everyone can access each other’s ideas. A virtual whiteboard or even a simple shared folder can do that for you. Make sure that no one is offended or starts to hold a grudge if someone else improves on their original idea or starts playing with it in their own way. People’s egos can sometimes get in the way of creative solutions, so don’t be surprised if that happens.
The best ideas are often born when you put a lot of diverse people in a room and encourage them to share their experiences. If you put a lot of people who think the same in the same room, what they can come up with will be limited by their worldviews and knowledge.
Try to get people from different backgrounds and roles to spend time together in a creative setting and see where that lands you. Make sure not to force any connections, as some people simply won’t mesh together well because of their differences, so if it’s not working, try a different combination.
Now that you understand the importance of creativity, take some time to discover what you can do in your workplace to promote it. Of course, changing your processes will take some time and effort. Don’t be discouraged if no one comes bursting into your office with the next big thing on a napkin in two days’ time.