Businesses with more creative ideas tend to be more competitive, offering new products, novel solutions to tough problems, and agile paths of development. Thinking creatively is a practical necessity if you want to get your business out of a rough situation or just get an edge over the competition. But creativity isn’t something you can force; you can’t wring creative ideas out of a mind with willpower alone.
That said, you can take steps to increase creativity in your organization and ultimately brainstorm more creative, ingenious business ideas.
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Hire International Employees
First, consider hiring employees from other countries and other cultures. These days, it’s remarkably easy to apply for an ESTA, making it a simple matter to bring people in for interviews or have them meet with the domestic team regularly. In the meantime, you can use email, group chats, phone calls, and video conferences to bring them into the loop.
Improving the diversity of your team will introduce your business environment to different perspectives, backgrounds, and notably, ways of thinking. With a team of employees with different types of education and different views, you’ll be able to come up with much more inventive solutions.
Involve the Entire Team (When Necessary)
If possible, try to involve the entire team. You may have a single team member who’s more creatively minded or more innovative than the others, but it shouldn’t be their responsibility to come up with everything. No single person is a perfect brainstormer – and most great ideas are the result of collaboration anyway. Putting multiple minds together is the best way to come up with truly unique concepts and provide reality checks for concepts that have already been developed.
There’s one caveat here; you shouldn’t include people unnecessarily. Each person you add to a meeting will multiply the total man-hours spent in that meeting, possibly resulting in a loss of productive time.
Facilitate a Creative Environment
Try to create a work environment that fosters and supports creativity. Small changes can go a long way here. For example, you can paint the walls unique colors or hang abstract, thought-provoking artwork on the walls. You could also play moderate-volume, instrumental music throughout the office and encourage your employees to read inspiring books in their free time.
Listen to All Ideas
When creatively brainstorming, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Some ideas won’t work, and they should be discarded, but it’s still important to hear them; sometimes, “bad” ideas can serve as inspiration for “good” ones. Accordingly, it’s important to set a tone with your employees that you want to hear any and all ideas.
Make Your Employees Feel Confident
In line with this, it’s important to make your employees feel confident in themselves and in their work environment; otherwise, they won’t bother speaking up. Praise your employees for offering ideas and reject ideas gently and with tact. It’s also important to demonstrate this open, welcoming environment to others; create an entire workplace culture around the idea of transparent sharing and collaboration. Once established, it will be much easier for everyone to provide their best ideas.
Allow Plenty of Downtime
There’s significant research that shows we often come up with our most creative ideas and think in novel ways when we’re completely unoccupied –in other words, when we’re bored. That’s why it’s common for people to come up with new insights in the shower, or on the drive to work; it’s because we aren’t forced to think about anything else, so our minds can wander.
You can facilitate this in your work environment by allowing for more boredom and downtime. Though it seems both counterintuitive and counterproductive, a bit of extra time and boredom can do wonders for your employees’ creativity.
Change the Location
We often find ourselves creatively “tapped” or unable to come up with new ideas because we’re stuck in the same physical space. A new environment can introduce us to new sights, sounds, smells, and other stimuli – all of which can spark our mind to think in new ways. Take your team for a walk outside or visit the coffee shop down the street; it can make a big difference in how you all think.
Change the Routine
Similarly, you can shake things up by changing your daily routine. Get rid of the traditional meeting or rearrange the schedule on a regular basis. It’s not as comfortable, but you often need to break out of your comfort zone to think more creatively.
Coming up with more creative business ideas can make your business instantly more competitive – and potentially more profitable as well. It will take some time to experiment and find the strategies that work best for your environment and your team, but once you find them, you’ll be well-positioned to come up with better approaches.