Businesses, industries and the people who run them are changing quickly and frequently. With so much disruptive technology and ideas, you need to be at the top of your game to keep your doors open, let alone make your way to the top. The new business model requires you to be creative, break the rules and move away from the norms. So how can you make your team think more creatively?
Recruit Good People - And Make Sure They're Compatible
Nothing can replace a great team. Bring in people from different backgrounds and different experiences so they can challenge and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. No matter what you're brainstorming in your business, whether it's how to make your operations more efficient or an idea for your next blog post, bring in people from different departments to get a variety of perspectives. Make sure your team is open to thinking outside the box and is willing to be vulnerable and open with their ideas. A solid business starts with hiring the best people, so be sure to use them.
Looking to hire "the best" people? That's great, but be careful. I'll take a curious, eager person who's great in a team over a "super star" in most situations, so the "best" candidate isn't always best based on skills alone. Many companies are using personality testing (like Myers-Briggs, DiSC, and others) to get a feel for how people work and compare that to the team members already in place. This can be a great way to help balance out the team and prevent style and "fit" collisions before hiring.
To be able to hire the best people, you can't have restraints on location. With today's technology you can hire people in different cities, states and even countries. Use a tool like a virtual office desktop to have phone calls, video calls and messaging with all of the people in your company, whether they're in a conference room or across the world.
You also may want to use technology to boost creativity in your brainstorm sessions. Let people surf the web, social media and your competitors for ideas. Conduct online research to see if other people have already found a solution to the problem you're trying to solve. The internet gives you the world at your fingertips, so why not use it?
Make It A Game
There's nothing like a little competition to get the creative juices flowing. Think back to when you were a kid and what helped you come up with your craziest ideas. It probably wasn't sitting at a desk, right? Give your employees a sheet of paper or sticky notes and a pen and give them two minutes to come up with all the ideas they can to solve your problem. Don't limit them to good ideas and bad ideas, just whatever comes to mind as fast as they can write it down. Come back together after the two minutes and go through everyone's proposals and expand on them. Whoever comes up with the winning idea should get a gift card or an extra long lunch.
You also can play word association games, make your problem into a puzzle, create a scavenger hunt or any other number of games to get your employees to think creatively.
Let Ideas Sit A Bit
Even though deadlines can help your team make final decisions, sometimes they need the time and space to ponder out the big ideas. You never know when inspiration is going to strike (how many ideas have you had on your commute to work or in the shower?). Tell your team about the problem, and then let them think about it for a couple days. They can do some outside research, talk together or think separately. Then, have everyone come together to discuss their solutions. Encourage others to add onto their co-workers ideas in any way until you have a solution that works for everyone.
You don't have to do anything crazy to inspire creativity in your team. Give people the room and encouragement they need, and you'll be delighted with the results.