Why We Need Creativity & Innovation in the Workplace
07 Mar

Why We Need Creativity & Innovation in the Workplace

creativity employee training and development

With workplaces needing to cut costs and often cut headcount, people need to think differently – and that means getting creative like never before.

 

With the majority of organisations needing to become more efficient and ultimately do more with less, many rush into this without revising old ways of working.  This in turn often leads to stressed employees, missed deadlines, unhappy customers (internal and external), and a wholly unhappy place to be.  We’ve seen many high profile cases of companies going into or almost going into liquidation (HMV, Jessops, Blockbusters, Republic), proving that now more than ever, businesses must keep up to date with changing trends and constantly challenge the way things are done to not only stay current, but profitable too.

 

So how often do we actually stop to think about how to challenge old ways of doing things?  We are all guilty of complaining about there not being enough hours in the day, never enough time to do what is required of us just to keep our heads above water, so the easiest option is of course to just do what we’ve always done.  Getting creative doesn’t have to take a lot of time, it’s simply about considering other ways of doing things.  Sure, it might be that once you have considered other options that the best solution is what you would have done anyway, but if you don’t go through the process you’d never know.

 

Many people consider themselves uncreative.  This can trace right back to childhood, when we were told we couldn’t draw, or our talents lay elsewhere.  Or perhaps as adulthood loomed we put away those childish things and grew up; considering a sensible job, paying the rent / mortgage and other such commitments as the final nails in our creative coffin.  If this sounds like you, consider two things:

 

  1. When was the last time you did something seriously creative?  Either at work or at home, it doesn’t matter.  If you struggle to think of something then it’s not surprising that you feel uncreative.  Creativity is like a muscle, it needs constant exercise or else it withers away.  Classical pianists don’t just become great at playing the piano overnight, it takes constant time and focus (but you’ll be glad to know you don’t need to flex your creative muscle for quite as many hours a day to be great at getting creative!).
  2. Don’t be tempted to think of creativity as blue sky and beanbags.  It’s easy for us to think about what creativity looks like outside of work (arts & crafts, dressmaking, cops & robbers, doctors & nurses!), however when it comes to work creativity can take many forms.  We each have our own unique preferences when it comes to getting the creative juices flowing.  Some people will prefer to think through options themselves whilst others will thrive on the energy of a group discussion.  You may also prefer structured and methodical ways of coming up with new ideas or more abstract methods.  Either way it’s important to identify your own preferred approach, so take some time to identify this.

 

There are a myriad of different tools and techniques out there that can help you to get creative.  Below we offer one for generating new ideas (it’s probably the best known of the lot but that doesn’t mean it’s always used the way it should be!), and one for whittling down your long list of creative options into your few possibles to proceed with.

 

Generating new ideas: Try ‘Brainstorming’

Whoa there!  Before you skip past this bit thinking you know about brainstorming, please read on!  This is arguably the granddaddy of creative thinking tools, but with fame comes mis-use and abuse.  A good brainstorm can be done with groups of people over short or longer time periods depending on what’s being ‘stormed’.  It works because people trigger each others thinking which leads onto constantly new and different or associated ideas and it allows people to think big rather than be restricted…but therein lies the problem with brainstorming.  How many of us have been sat in one of these when each and every suggestion has been subjected to analysis-paralysis or shot down because “that wouldn’t work” or “we’ve tried that before”?

 

So…here are some simple steps to help you to have a successful brainstorm:

  • Have some help – whether it’s a facilitator or a neutral party, try and have someone who can keep things on track and bring everyone back to that big thinking when the debate heats up.
  • What are you brainstorming – make sure everyone is clear on what it is you are trying to generate ideas for.
  • Collect all ideas – capture everything that is offered and spend no time filtering or analysing…that comes later.  This bit is all about quantity over quality.
  • “If you have nothing nice to say…” – by far the hardest part of most brainstorms: keeping a lid on critical evaluation.  Introducing critique at this stage will only stop people from contributing.
  • Brief the ‘rules’ – because brainstorming has been around for so long, most people think it’s easy (which of course it is!)…but you might need to walk through some or all of these steps with your group before you begin, so that everyone is on the same page.

 

Distilling your creative ideas:  Try ‘Negative Selection’

So you’ve gotten creative on how to market your new widget, and you have a list of ideas as long as the combined length of arms in your department.  Maybe a 100 foot plasma billboard suspended above The Thames won’t work, but perhaps it might…!  Essentially, what you are doing here is whittling your list into your no’s and maybe’s, just like you would do when you were considering which breed of dog to adopt or what kind of car to buy.  Be careful not to label the whacky and inventive ideas with a ‘no’ just because they’re whacky and inventive; you could always keep it in the ‘maybe’ pile and come back to it later, or consider if there is a simpler alternative of the idea.  You want to end with a shortlist that has a number of workable and unique ideas, not just a pile of logical, sensible and totally uninspiring ones.

 

So, challenge yourself and your business today.  Think big and think differently…the world is changing and we all need to change with it or get left behind.

 

At Right Trax Training we can help your managers, teams and business to be more creative. Find out more about our employee training and development and get in touch to discuss how we can help.

Flexible Working: The Way We Work is Changing!
30 Sep

Flexible Working: The Way We Work is Changing!

With 1 in 3 of the UK workforce quoting flexible working as their top employer attribute, businesses must respond accordingly to attract the best talent.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.40.26

Forget the debates of the past like the issues of working in open-plan offices; we are now turning our attention to a whole new set of concerns. With more people working from home, how do we deal with the problems of noise, distraction, indoor-air quality, and lack of mobility when often ‘work’ is no longer an actual place?

Once the likely domain of ‘creatives’ and freelancers, the new home ‘office’ requires organisations to increasingly depend on an individual’s ability to effectively communicate with their virtual team from a distance.

The concept of a static ‘job description’ is also fading fast. The workers of the future are already thinking about income security, not necessarily job security. Many people are building varied portfolios of work, rather than relying on a single income. This can work in favour of both the business and the employee.

If an employee is thinking “What skills do I need?” instead of “What role will I have for the next 10 years?” then they are constantly motivated to improve themselves and their skill set in order to try to stay at the top of their game.

Businesses benefit by being able to identify the skills they need for the project at hand and having the means to assemble the best talent possible to achieve the best results. Their workers are very open to developing and improving, and more realistic about what would once have been considered ‘outside’ people being used for collaboration.

The future is likely to involve lots of one person companies, where the work is taken to the worker, rather than the worker to the work, with everything operating very differently when we no longer need to commute. The changing way we work will impact all aspects of business, including staff development and IT costs.

The Sharing Economy (a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human and physical resources) is one to watch. Its concept is one of shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.

Watch this space…!

Right Trax Training are a learning & development consultancy who are passionate about helping businesses to develop their people to be better at what they do. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you to navigate through the changing landscape of today’s workplace!


*Figures from Jobsite survey

Tidy Desk, Uncreative Mind?
10 Aug

Tidy Desk, Uncreative Mind?

What does your work space look like…do you work at a tidy, organised clean desk where everything has a place or is it at risk of being condemned for chaos and disorder? A recent study has suggested that having a disorganised desk and environment may encourage creative thinking and stimulates innovation.

Many of us work in regulated environments where there is a need to have a clear desk in order to satisfy confidentiality and security requirements. However, we don’t really have to have a minimalistic style just to fulfil legal and regulatory obligations. As long as confidential information is not kept out in the open then should a messy desk be frowned upon or viewed as a space to harness creativity?

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Albert Einstein 

Let’s get rid of some popular myths surrounding creativity…it’s not only the domain of your Marketing team, it’s not just beanbags and blue sky thinking and you don’t need to be a “certain” type of person to be creative. In fact, the potential to be creative is in us all. Everything we do or say has creative potential, whether it’s cooking a new recipe or trialling a different route to work. You don’t have to paint pictures, create dramatic sculptures or write inspiring poetry to be considered creative…the inner artist is within each of us.

So how can you spark your own creativity? We all get creative in different ways so here are some thoughts to help inspire your inner artist…

  • Curiosity killed the cat…or did it? Question the norm and challenge existing theories or policies; don’t think that the mundane and mediocre has to be accepted. Ask the questions that you’ve always wanted to ask and be brave. The only silly question is the one that doesn’t get asked.
  • Go with your gut – Don’t be put off by scepticism and trust your own instincts. Be bold and adventurous and don’t let the impossible stop you from achieving the possible.
  • A room with a view – Creativity is about looking at things in new ways or from a different perspective and generating new possibilities or alternatives  So what type of environment inspires you…do you need external stimulation with energetic music and gadgets or a quiet calm place which helps to maintain focus?
  • I want to be alone – Creativity doesn’t necessarily require a room full of people brainstorming. Sitting down in a quiet, comfortable space reflecting or thinking quite deeply has its advantages, but do get input from others to help spark more thoughts and ideas.
  • Let’s brainstorm – This is one of the most well-known tools and is used to trigger and challenge our own thinking. Bouncing off the thoughts of others can get us out of a thought-rut and open up new creative avenues.  Always establish ground rules to create a purposeful environment where everyone feels valued and included…read more on brainstorming here.
  • Have fun – Positive thinking can spur creativity so it’s important to enjoy yourself and not take things too seriously.
  • Don’t be a couch potato – Creative thinking needs to be exercised and developed regularly, so investigate new and different methods and techniques.

What do you think…does your workspace influence your own creative thinking?  Tell us in the comments below.

At Right Trax Training we can help your people to be more creative, tidy desks or not!  Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Sign-up for our news and updates...
Regular support for your personal and professional development!
* indicates required
Sign-up Now!
Don't worry, we hate spam too and will never pass on your information.