Depending on the environment that you work in, you might be surrounded by creative and innovative people.
Yet, if you don’t take steps to foster their creativity and ideas, you don’t know what you might be missing.
So, if you’re running a business and you have a great team, or perhaps you’re a team leader, then here are some great ways that you can get the most from your staff.
Your team is made up of individuals with different strengths and different hobbies. No two people at the table will take the same approach to a problem - or have an identical skill set.
Your job is to personalize the ideation process.
Before starting extensive brainstorming sessions or having roundtables, you need to understand the people around the table. This will give you an indicator of what they can bring to the process - and how you can best encourage ideas.
One of the critical things you will do as a leader, or a facilitator of the big ideas, is creating an engaging environment.
Before you see any innovation hit your desk, the team needs to know that the efforts are going to be appreciated.
Fostering an environment that recognizes and appreciates the work of the team is the first step.
Are you allowing the space to test ideas and try new things? Not only will that bring something new to their work, but it is a great way to attract new talent.
Take a look around the physical environment, and see if the office or workspace is conducive to creativity.
If it’s not, take some time to read about how you can improve productivity in the office.
Not only can you talk and present some of their ideas or your own, but you can book an appearance from people who specialize in encouraging big ideas.
Regular Idea Sessions
If you have one session every 3-6 months, the buzz of the first one will wear off pretty quickly. The gap between the sessions might be too big, and the creative person may push their idea generation to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ pile.
Make them monthly, and encourage people to solve a specific problem, while still allowing the conversation to flow to other areas.
The brainstorming session takes a lot of brainpower, and that should be rewarded. You might have a free lunch selection available, days off to test ideas, or coffee gift cards.
Appreciation and incentive go a long way when you want to foster creativity.
Build a bank
Not all ideas can be used straight away, but almost all ideas have value. Create a point, a bank, of all of the ideas that have been presented that everyone can access.
Have the basis of the idea, and perhaps other notes for each of the documents in the folder - or shared board using something like Trello.
Label them all well, and when people have a similar idea, they can check the tabs and add more notes - or choose to take over the board with the original idea and test it.
This works for other creative works too. If you work in marketing or digital, and coming up with ideas is one of the essential parts, a ‘bank’ filled with ideas can be helpful.
You should be mindful that the person the original idea came from should be named in any final products, or credit is given where due.
Giving credit and acknowledgment means that people are more likely to share ideas and be happy when others use them. It also creates a culture of sharing and teamwork.
Failing should be a vital part of your team testing ideas, and when or if something does fail, it shouldn’t be criticized. Instead, look at the features of the idea that did work and how to bridge the gap of all the parts.
When people are comfortable with failing, they will be comfortable trying again. Creation and innovation take time to get right, and failure should be an accepted part of the process.
The company has some bigger overarching goals for the future. It might be new products, tools, or how to expand.
These can be some of the big ideas that are often up for discussion.
When there is an objective or a goal, people are more likely to focus their idea generation in that way.
You can break up the goals and hand them to different teams. If you want to get experimental, you can give the goal to groups that they wouldn’t usually have.
For example, give your tech guys the goals for a marketing campaign and the marketing team data problems.
It might not work out, but it will give the teams an insight into other goals within the business, which might help in what they are doing.
There aren’t bad ideas; there are only ideas that aren’t refined yet - or that should go in the ideas bank. Why is this important? If you have a culture where ‘bed’ ideas are dismissed and put down, then you might be missing unique ideas that people are too anxious to come forward with.
Sure, there will be some ideas that feel or look irrelevant, but the ideas have stemmed from the question or idea at hand - isn’t it worth finding out the path taken to get there?
Encouraging big ideas is one of the best ways to see what your team sees as the future and just some of the possibilities.