How To Encourage Creative Thinking Within Your Organization

July 11, 2012 — 15 Comments
How To Encourage Creative Thinking Within Your Organization | Joseph Lalonde

Great organizations encourage and promote a culture of creativity. They want their team dreaming up the next iPad or ways of capturing the imagination of their audience.

And yet the question remains: How do you encourage your team to think creatively?

Creative light camera

Image by Cameron Russell

That question is one most companies have trouble answering.

They become worried that it will cut into productivity. Encourage goofing off. Or create havoc.

In reality, that’s not what happens. What really happens is a blockbuster team is formed.

Let’s take Google as an example.

They’re knocking it out of the park with the innovation coming out of the company. You’ve got

That’s not the whole list but you get the idea. Ideas are birthed and brought to life by the creative minds at Google. Creativity is encouraged. It’s part of their culture.

The same can go for Apple, Amazon, Patagonia, or Kickstarter. They encourage their employees to get creative.

How can you encourage creative thinking within your company? Let’s look at 5 ways.

  1. Allow failures to happen: Look at any successful company and you’ll see a list of failures that will rival their successes. Google failed with Google Answers, Google Wave, and Google Coupons. Don’t let a failure be the end of creative thinking. When faced with a failure, break down the process and discover why it failed. Take that knowledge with you into the next project.
  2.  

  3. Give your employees time to explore their personal interests: The successful companies allow and encourage their employees to discover and explore personal interests. Some even allow up to 20% of their workday to be filled with such pursuits. Why?
     
    Because it renews their energy. Allows them to relax. Frees their minds to discover new solutions to problems.
     
    Have you ever been stuck on a problem? Focusing so much time and energy on the issue and not being able to resolve it? Only to leave work, relax, and discover the answer? This is why allowing your employees to explore personal interests can be to your benefit.
  4.  

  5. Create controlled chaos: Mix introverts with the extroverts. Put a Debbie Downer with the energetic and positive team. Stir up a little chaos.The team will have to come up with solutions on how to deal with each other. Allow them this opportunity.
     
    And then have the team bring their solution back to the whole company. Look for ways to apply this to other aspects of the business. If it’s a great principle, it will be transferable.
  6.  

  7. Encourage a focus on execution: When Apple released the iPhone, other phone companies said there was nothing new that could be done with cell phones. Apple stepped in and focused on executing a killer product. The iPhone had an easy to use interface, great apps, and a catchy name. Then Steve Jobs nailed it with his execution of the reveal. By focusing on the execution, creativity flourished.
  8.  

  9. Reward those who take risks: Sometimes team members will be scared to take risks because of failure, even if you’re a company that allows failures to happen. They need a bigger push. They need to know there’s a reward.
     
    Give them a reason to push through the risk. The reward could be huge like a new car or it could be as simple as recognition in front of the whole company.
     
    Find out what motivates them and reward them. If they take the risk and pull it off.

Creative and innovative companies have figured out they can’t be stagnant. They have to push the boundaries to see what can be done. They have to take the chance.

And they must encourage their employees to do the same.

By following the suggestions above, you can improve the creative thinking within your company. Are you willing to take the chance?

Question: How does your company encourage creative thinking? If they don’t, what steps could you take to encourage creative thinking? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

http://www.jmlalonde.com/the-creativity-of-children/

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  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Have you ever seen any specials on Google? Their environment is awesome. Gym, four gourmet resturants, child care, video games, not stressing over the hours, looks like a cool place to woke. They also get the most out of their empoyees for it!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I haven’t seen any TV specials about Google but I have read many articles about their culture and way of doing business. Amazing structure and results come from this way of thinking. One of the coolest things was the time they gave to employees to work on outside interests. How awesome would that be to be able to do at your job?

  • RonnieTabor

    I think point #1 is extremely hard for a new leader. Allowing your team to make mistakes will give them energy and you a highly motivated team.

    Micro-managing to avoid mistakes will certainly lead to a loss in motivation on your teams part as well.

    As usual, great post Joe!

    Ronnie
    http://www.ronnietabor.com

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      It can be extremely hard, especially when we’re told everything has to be perfect. The issue with perfection? Innovation stops and it all becomes about keeping pace.

      Do you have any tips for new leaders and letting others make mistakes?

      • RonnieTabor

        Three tips off the top of my head

        1. Give your team “Top Cover”
        Be the buffer between your team and your leadership, never throw them under the bus.

        2. Trust your team with the the tactical plan
        Communicate what needs to happen and then let your team do their magic

        3. Maintain responsibility of the strategic plan
        If it works great give them all the credit, if it fails take all the responsibility

        A leaders with the three traits above will develop a team; that will climb mountains, conquer countries and lay down their lives for their leader.

        Ronnie

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Those three points are great. If new leaders followed those steps we’d see results that blow away the average.

          Having been under some poor leaders, I think point 2 really sticks out to me. When the team is able to see the plan, they’re more willing to join in and get the job done. If you hide what the plan is you just create mystery.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    My current company does not encourage creative ideas(It’s a non-profit). I’m looking for a new job and one of the things I’m looking for is that they allow their people to be creative.

    I really like all of your points. I think creativity starts from the top, leaders need to be the catalyst for creativity.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That would be rough Dan. Especially for a creative person such as yourself. Have you tried to implement any creative ideas into the company?

      • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

        Yes it is. I work with Foster kids and I’m always needing to be creative in how I interact and use conflict resolution with them.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          I never knew that is what you did Dan. I can see how creativity would be needed in dealing with foster children.

          I’ll be praying for you as you look for a job to transition into. Hoping the Lord makes it quick for you.

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