By Blair Williams, founder of MemberPress
Your team can be an unlimited source of great ideas, especially if you know how to draw out their creative abilities. Idea generation often requires direction; as a leader, you can employ creative techniques that encourage your team members to share their best thoughts and perspectives.
Bringing your team together and having them bounce ideas and thoughts off of one another will lead to new ideas. It's also a powerful team-building activity. There are several techniques that can work depending on what suits your team -- and if everyone can keep an open mind. Creativity, by definition, is about pushing boundaries and exploring unusual ideas.
To help make that happen, let's look at three different techniques you can leverage to help your team express ideas that they previously might not have considered.
1. Host a brainstorming session.
Brainstorming is a well-known way to make your team more creative. The idea is to bring people together, establish a topic and have everyone come up with ideas. There are certain brainstorming best practices to follow to make the session more effective.
During the brainstorming period, don't filter any of the ideas. If you're the moderator, write down all ideas, or put them up on a whiteboard -- no matter how obvious, unfeasible or ridiculous they may seem. Don't allow criticism of any kind, either. It's important to allow people to simply express their thoughts on the topic. Whether a suggestion makes sense or not is unimportant.
Promoting an uninterrupted, free-flow environment is important to remove any obstacles standing in the way of truly innovative ideas.
2. Ask your team members to freewrite on a topic.
The concept of freewriting has been around for a while. Peter Elbow's Writing With Power and Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones are significant works that encourage people to freewrite. Mark Levy's Accidental Genius is a contemporary version that shows how to apply freewriting to business and idea generation.
Freewriting is a technique used to generate ideas on paper or on a computer screen. It works by setting a timer for a fixed time period -- five to 10 minutes for shorter bursts of writing and up to 20 minutes for longer periods.
The idea is to start writing and to stop only when the timer goes off. Set a guiding topic, such as "how to better engage our clients," and ask your team to write about it as freely as they can. They should do this without editing or pausing as they write.
According to Mark Levy, freewriting forces your mind to come up with new thoughts as you keep writing. It backs your mind into a corner and gets it to generate something new and interesting. In the midst of words and phrases that are random and meaningless, real insights and actionable ideas will emerge.
3. Encourage doodling.
We all doodled in our notebooks as children. You've probably also doodled at work during a meeting once or twice. Many people think of it as a meaningless activity. But, according to Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, it's an underestimated way to problem solve and boost creativity.
You can get your whole team to doodle abstract ideas to gain insights on complex problems. By using letters, words, hand-drawn images and arrows, you can convert problems and concepts into pictorial elements.
This can encourage greater focus on a topic and uses the hand-brain connection to generate ideas. You'll have your team working together in a fun way to solve problems in no time. If you're skeptical, consider that using doodles as a way to brainstorm ideas has already been done in businesses.
Use creative means to build a creative team.
Getting your team to be more creative can be a fun bonding experience. To get creative ideas, you need to let go of conventional ways of doing things. By brainstorming, doodling and freewriting, you'll give your team skills that can be applied in many areas of life.
You can access thoughts and ideas you didn't know existed to solve issues at work. Explore the tools listed here to further boost the creativity of your team.
Blair Williams is the founder of MemberPress, an all-in-one membership website software for WordPress.