If you recently set your company’s goals or personal resolutions, consider how creative you and your company are before you become one of the 80% who gives up on their goals by spring. A fresh perspective can help fuel the accomplishment of new goals. In addition to perspective, here are three more reasons to unleash creativity:
• Overcome mediocrity. Repeating the same processes and having the same expectations all the time means people can check their brains at the door on their way in to work. If they don’t have to think too much because they do things the way they’ve always been done, people get bored, skills atrophy and performance wanes. The culture of mediocrity will stifle company growth and lead to the exits of talented people.
• Stimulate growth. Doing what’s always been done or only what customers request limits the growth of people and companies. If you want growth beyond what you’ve had before, you must do something different. Unleash creative thinking to identify the possibilities to stimulate growth.
• Raise the bar. It’s sad when leaders set the bar too low and their companies reach it. Raise the bar high, and then show others the path, encourage risk and watch people fly. If you keep the bar low because “that’s how we’ve always done things,” or “they’ll never do it,” you’ll get what you’re expecting: low performance.
There are many reasons creativity is stifled, and most center around confusion due to unclear goals or opposing priorities.
Today’s complex business environment requires all three of the above by companies who want to thrive in any industry, but some companies suffocate creativity rather than inspire it. There are many reasons creativity is stifled, and most center around confusion due to unclear goals or opposing priorities. Self-interest and ego also smother creativity. It is hard to get a disengaged or lazy employee to take on something new with gusto. It’s also hard for some leaders to encourage others to shine, even when that means their own light will dim in the process.
Creative thinking is unleashing the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas. Without the ideas, there’s no innovation. To reach innovation, unleash your own creativity using these strategies:
1. Let phrases like “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” and “they’ll never let us do it that way” be red flags. When you hear them or think them yourself, reflect deeper on how to get around those idea drainers.
2. Check your ego and self-interest. Sometimes people thwart a new idea because they worry about how they will look if it fails. Other times, it may be because implementing something new is extra work. When you speak or think negatively, reflect on where ego and self-interest come into play.
3. Limit gadget use to certain hours so they are not distractions or time-wasters. Consider saving an hour each morning and evening for no gadget use at all, thus compelling the brain to engage differently. Or, perhaps, with no gadget for an hour, you can disengage and be still.
4. Learn from the best. Find out who has mastered something you want to learn, and follow their lead. Learn from them on social sites. Read their books. Listen to their podcasts, and take their webinars. Be even more creative and email the masters to engage firsthand.
5. Act like a child. Kids are so creative, and their minds are reeling with ideas all the time. Do what kids do: Go play outside on the playground equipment at the school nearby. Ride the roller coaster at the amusement park. Color outside the lines, or organize a game of kickball.
6. Hang out with different people. If your company hires people with similar experiences and keeps them forever, it will not be as innovative as a company with broader diversity and creativity. Get to know people outside your team or department. Expand your circle to expand your mind.
7. Follow a process to inspire ideas, and follow through. Start with the vision, and dream big. Next, get others on board for support. Third, think through the operations, strategy or business model, and then get input from the “doers” who will execute. Be intentional about each phase so one doesn’t stifle another. There’s a time to discuss the budget, pros and cons, and operational considerations; however, that time is not during the vision phase.
Use these strategies to unleash your creativity. You’ll serve as an example for drawing upon diverse resources for ideas, be able to combine ideas in unique ways and create a work environment that encourages creativity, diversity, and innovation.