A leader that can extract their teams' creative abilities has the potential to drive their business to become standouts in their industry. When your team is operating at its creative best, you’ll find innovative solutions to your customer’s problems and distinguish yourself.
Creativity has a very direct role in shaping the outcomes of your marketing efforts. To boost your SEO and build thought leadership, you need to create engaging content on a regular basis. Producing content daily and coming up with something new to say needs creative thinking.
There are several other areas in business where innovativeness matters.
For example, the top three problems in sales are getting responses from prospects, engaging decision-makers, and closing deals. In situations like these and many others in your business, the ability to generate new ideas matter. Finding a new and interesting perspective to problem-solving can shape success.
As a leader, you need to build a conducive environment for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. You also need to apply uncommon and challenging techniques to push your team to think differently.
Here are some highly effective ways that you can lead your team to be more creative.
Encourage your team to doodle
We think of doodling as a meaningless activity that we do when we’re bored. The scribbles in the margins of a notepad during a meeting, however, hold the potential for new ideas.
According to Sunni Brown, the author of the Doodle Revolution, doodling is a powerful way to unleash one's creativity.
When you doodle, you compel your mind to transform abstract mental concepts into pictures. You engage the visual part of your brain, using more of your mind and more learning modalities.
When you're brainstorming as a team and trying to process a large amount of information, doodling can help. The act of doodling lets you process more information easily by using pictures. When you try to represent difficult concepts, an image can convey information more successfully than large pages of text. The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" has a very real meaning in processing information.
People who doodle are also able to retain information better. When you have a team meeting for idea generation or problem-solving encourage your team to doodle. Use a marker and a whiteboard, or just pen and paper, and start shaping out the topic. Draw simple images, arrows, shapes, and words to flesh out a problem or concept.
Doodling is an effective group brainstorming activity that will engage your co-workers and act as a team-building effort. You can lead thinking exercises using doodling and ask your team to collaborate on creating visual solutions for business problems.
Use doodling as a fun and practical way to boost innovativeness in your team.
Use improvisation techniques
Improvisation by nature involves thinking on your feet. You have to be able to create content from a prompt and work with other people to make engaging material. In other words, improvisation naturally demands creativity, and this makes improv techniques useful in business.
One improvisation technique you can use when you're brainstorming with your team is, the "Yes… And" technique. The "Yes... And" technique is a basic improv concept that compels people to explore a topic or an idea to its fullest.
During meetings, shutting down a person’s idea disrupts the flow of creative thought. Criticizing or pointing out problems with an idea is not conducive to new ideas. The "Yes...And" technique forces people to keep the flow of ideas open-ended during brainstorming sessions.
When one person in the team comes up with an idea, the next person to speak has to accept it completely by saying "Yes". They then add on to the idea by saying "And" and then following it up with their thought or suggestion.
For example, if one team member suggests that customers are given a free upgrade for becoming a member on your site, your response could be "Yes, and let's also ask them to follow us on social media."
Using a "Yes… And" way to explore every idea allows you to keep your mind open to alternative solutions. You can explore an idea until it's completely exhausted and then move on to another topic.
Working with this improvisation technique will make people more comfortable sharing their thoughts and will easily lead to innovative solutions.
Freewriting is typically an individual endeavor that you can apply to a group with great results. The idea behind freewriting is to set a timer and let your hand move, writing down whatever comes to your mind.
The key is to refrain from pausing or editing at all costs. When you edit or censor your words, you place a stopper on the flow of your thoughts. This impedes creative ideas from emerging.
When freewriting, you also need to write very quickly, getting all your thoughts typed out. Doing this drives your mind into a corner where it’s compelled to come up with something new.
In this way, freewriting forces your brain to generate ideas that may otherwise not surface to your conscious mind.
You can improve your team's creativity and productivity for the day by asking them to freewrite for 15 minutes every morning before starting work. You can also work as a team by writing on flipcharts and inviting team members to quickly jot down their thoughts.
Freewriting is especially useful in supporting your content marketing activities. A business needs to produce fresh and informative regularly to boost SEO. Content creation also has a significant impact on your business goals. A company that produces more than 16 blogs a month gets 3.5x more traffic, and 4.5x more leads than companies that create fewer posts.
Freewriting can help create your content marketing team come up with new ideas for blog articles and social media posts. It can also be a tool that pushes creative thinking in other areas.
Ask for bad ideas
When you reach a standstill in your creative discussions, channeling your thoughts to unusual directions can give you new perspectives.
Ask your team for bad ideas to solve the problem you’re facing. Don't reject or criticize any of these ideas. When you look at poor ideas that obviously don't work, it can bring helpful solutions into focus.
Getting your team to come up with terrible ideas will also infuse humor into a meeting and re-energize the session. Use this technique to create a break and to jog the mind for unusual ideas.
Think and talk fast
People can block their best ideas from emerging when they process their thoughts for too long.
An effective way to get a steady flow of ideas is to encourage your team to think and talk fast. When you talk fast, there's little time to edit what you're saying. Done correctly, this will lead to a free flow of thoughts around a specific problem or topic.
Your team members will get their ideas out into the open and avoid overthinking. When this is done long enough, there’s bound to be a breakthrough that you can work with.
The key to creative thoughts is letting your mind explore all ideas without filtering them. It's always possible to edit and remove ideas that won't work after your team has come up with enough solutions.
Today, the business landscape can change virtually overnight as new technologies and trends emerge. It's essential for you and your teams to be at your creative best to grow your business in a swiftly changing environment.
We've looked at some of the ways that you can encourage creative thinking in your team. The different techniques mentioned here can help you generate innovative solutions to key issues. Work with them to create lively discussions and brainstorming sessions. All you need is one concept or idea to spark growth in your business.