Six Ways to Foster Creative Thinking in Your Workplace

What is creative thinking, and why is it important in the workplace? When most people think about creative thinking, their minds automatically go to actors, musicians, sculptors, or novelists. While all the above are creative thinkers, not all creative thinkers are artists. Creative thinking has transcended the plains of artists’ endeavours into the worlds of business and science.

According to an article by macmillanihe, “Creative thinking skills use very different approaches to critical thinking skills. They involve a much more relaxed, open, and playful approach, and can require some risk-taking”.

Creative thinkers are an asset to any organisation because they think outside the box, create solutions to complex problems, and sometimes bring a fresh and unorthodox perspective to their work. Due to the uncertainties of the business world, every organisation will benefit from a workforce that is rife with creative thinkers.

The question now is, how can organisations create a culture that encourages, fosters, and rewards creative thinking? In this article, we list out six ways your organisation can achieve this; they are:

  1. Training and Development — we can not stress enough how important training your workforce is. Training opens up minds to new and innovative ways to approach and solve business problems. According to Marketing Donut, “Your staff may be unfamiliar with the skills involved in creative problem-solving. Consider training sessions in techniques such as brainstorming, lateral thinking and mind-mapping”.
  2. Create a system that actively solicits ideas — at Phillips Consulting we have developed what we call “Idea Box”, which is a channel that actively solicits creative ideas from staff members. This can be adapted in so many ways by having in place physical and digital suggestion boxes at the workplace, holding brainstorming sessions and promoting collaborative working systems to come up with new approaches to problems.
  3. Allot time for new ideas — According to a report by Hongkiat, Google is an organisation that loves and encourages creative thinking. They came up with a program known as the 20% program or policy that encourages Google developers to spend 20% of their work hours on a creative project of their own. This has seen some of Google’s best products, such as Google Maps, Gmail, and Google Glass, emanating from the program.
  4. Reward Creativity — one way to motivate your workforce to be creative thinkers is to reward them. This can be in the form of additional points to their appraisal scores, recognition, and even monetary incentives. This encourages them to come up with creative ways of improving the workplace.
  5. Implementation — when employees see that their ideas are being implemented and appreciated, they are more likely to come up with more. For the ideas that are worth acting on, time and resources should be pumped into making them a reality.
  6. Be supportive — no idea is useless; never make anyone feel like their idea is not important. Instead, respond enthusiastically to all ideas and give even the bizarre ones a chance to be aired.

Phillips Consulting Limited (pcl.) is a leading business and management consulting firm serving clients across Africa. www.phillipsconsulting.net/