How to have a more creative team without changing the people

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We don’t need more creativity

To hear many business leaders tell it, creativity is in short supply. They want their people to be more creative. But their people are already creative. They have good ideas all the time and they have lots of them at work.

When we talk about a creative team, we mean one where people share their good ideas. That’s your challenge. Here’s how to have a more creative team with all the same people you have now.

Make the team a great place to work

Ideas flow more freely when people are relaxed and enjoying what they do and who they do it with. Here’s a quick test: listen for laughter.

If your team is a great place to work, easy laughter will be in the air a lot. If it’s not, you’ve got some work to do.

Praise the behavior you want not the outcome you hope for

When people bring you an idea, thank them and praise them. Don’t worry about how good the idea is or what it’s worth.

Like magic, ideas will start to flow. But praise isn’t enough, you have to do something with the ideas you get.

Develop a process for handling ideas

Most places that get a steady flow of ideas have a process for dealing with them. Here are suggestions based on what works for others.

Try all the ideas you can as soon as possible. A quick real life trial sends the message that ideas are important and sets you on the path to developing and adopting the idea.

Require peer buy-in before testing more elaborate ideas. If your team member can convince other team members that his or her idea is worth a try, it probably is.

Immediate payoff

Most of the ideas that your team members will come up with will be about ways to improve the way they work. Expect a payoff in productivity in addition to a boost in morale.

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