No matter what you’re working on, or which industry you’re in, there’s always a need for new ideas and fresh approaches. Whether you call it innovation, agile working, design thinking or simply problem solving, the teams with the edge are those who can come up with new solutions and make them happen.
So how do you get ideas flowing in your business? How do you create a team where people share their thinking and act on it, rather than staying quiet and waiting for someone else to take action?
While there’s a lot to this topic, it all starts with human interactions and the behaviour of team members. The language you choose and the tone you use drive a set of behaviours which are either super-supportive of new ideas and experimentation or absolutely lethal. To give idea-creation a boost in your business, try some of these tangible actions out for yourself and see what happens:
If you need ideas to make your upcoming company event awesome, how about booking a Conference Design Workshop with us?
Be in the right brain state
Your brain needs to be in a certain mode to create new connections. It’s the relaxed-but-awake mode which shows up on brain scans as high levels of alpha-wave activity. This relaxed state enables you to access all the information your brain is receiving and put it together in different ways, resulting in new ideas. Let’s just say that being at your desk, with a phone ringing, email notifications pinging and the boss asking for that white paper that’s due tomorrow does NOT create the relaxed vibe your brain needs to riff around new thoughts.
So cut yourselves some slack: go for a walk, head to a quieter space or somewhere more social like a coffee area to have your creative session. If you’re by yourself try listening to some music for a few minutes to allow the alpha waves to kick in, or stop by at someone’s desk for a chat and some human connection before heading off to problem solve and puzzle things out solo – who knows, they might even have some ideas for you.
Nurture new thinking
The words “no” and “but” cause shut-down in our brains’ exploratory processes. As soon as we hear them we stop thinking of possibilities and instead focus on obstacles, which stops the idea creation in its tracks. As an alternative, try continuing the discussion about a new thought or idea with the words “yes, and…” and then add to the idea and make it better.
Of course the obstacles and challenges to the implementation of an idea shouldn’t be ignored, but the way you present them in discussion makes all the difference. Closed statements like ‘that’ll never work’, or ‘compliance won’t allow it’ shut new ideas down fast, and make it difficult for the human brains in the room to problem-solve on the obstacles. Instead, try asking questions about the challenges: “How could we make that work?”, What could we do to make the idea more compliant with legislation?”
Another really helpful word in creative sessions is “so”. Our favourite word, and for good reason! If someone else raises an objection, phrased as a show-stopper, you can re-frame it with a “so we need to solve that problem”, or even just “so….” – and leave the space for them to fill in.
Keep the creation and the judging apart
It’s impossible for the human brain to be in creation-mode and critical-mode at the same time, so give your poor brains a break and do one at a time!
To help with this, make sure you capture your thoughts when coming up with new solutions. Not everything you think of will be brilliant, but if you write it all down, you can stay focussed on creating options for now, and then you can review with a critical eye later to find the brilliant stuff. Think of it as creating a stream of creative consciousness which you can come back to later and select the ideas with potential that you want to work with further.
You can capture your ideas in any way that works for you: write a list, draw pictures or icons, or even voice-record your conversation for review later. The point is to capture the thinking when it emerges, so nobody has to worry about their brilliance being lost – and everyone can focus on generating more options.
Don’t let poor human interactions get in the way of your team’s creative potential. Try some of the tips above and see what happens – we’d love to hear your stories.
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