Many companies are focusing on building a team with creativity these days. Why? Creativity pays off in a lot of ways. Whether you’re building a sales team, expanding product offerings, or encouraging a team atmosphere, put on your creative thinking cap to do business in a different way.
Stimulate your sales team. People who can come up with something different will stand out for the customer. Dr. Lisa Gundry, Professor of Management in the Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University and Director of the Leo V. Ryan Center for Creativity and Innovation at DePaul says, “effective sales performance relies on a series of relationships. Most business competitors already know all the strategies and tactics we use to win business. Creativity can come up with unconventional ways to sell and bring the unexpected to a sales relationship. Being able to properly identify what customers really need and finding new ways to solve their problems brings loyalty and satisfaction above and beyond what you are currently doing.” Creativity makes the difference between an audience that snoozes and one that listens.
Generate new product ideas. Even those who don’t think of themselves as creative will surprise themselves – and others – when they are free to work in a creative atmosphere. The premise behind Rick Highsmith’s Squish Creativity is that the fundamental building blocks to success are easily stifled when managers “squish creativity like a bug”. According to Highsmith you can foster creativity by allowing open discussion of any and all possible solutions. “We call this Green-Light thinking. It is the quantity not quality of ideas that is emphasized. There are no wrong answers in this process. Your role is to encourage the freewheeling generation of ideas. If you defer judgment, people will hitch hike a solution on another idea that had little merit. In this atmosphere the magic of creativity flourishes.” Fostering this type of atmosphere is a critical piece for building a team that consistently comes up with new product ideas.
Cultivate a positive environment. Positive language is itself a creative tool in reshaping thought and building creativity. Take the case of a major luxury hotel who a few years ago began a positive language campaign. When asked a question, employees could not imply reply, “OK” or “All right,” but had to respond with an enthusiastic “Great!” or “Happy to do so!” This simple change in language actually translated into a change in attitude among employees. That change resulted in new ideas on how to serve customers, which in turn has helped build a strong customer service model. Small shifts can make a big change. Brainstorming in a relaxed atmosphere helps when building a team with the ability to think not just outside the box, but beyond the box. Take our newest teambuilding activity, Ace Race Team Building. If you have a pile of boxed food items and canned goods, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably not, “Oh, a mini golf hole.” But that’s exactly what your team will build, with a little creative thinking. One of the values of interactive team building activities is that you get an opportunity to practice and receive immediate feedback on skills you’ve just learned, like creativity.
Everyone is creative, or at least started out that way. When he was younger one of my nephews could conjure up many different adventures from a large cardboard box. It’s a race car, a rocket, or a ship depending on his mood. Somewhere along the line as adults creativity fades, or is squished as Highsmith suggests. Adults need to create an atmosphere where they can practice creativity and enhance it in themselves. Like highly creative environments at Facebook and Google, the more inspirational your workplace is, the easier it is to break the creativity block and discover new ideas.
This article was written by Colette Peterson. Colette is a Corporate Team Building Consultant with The Leader’s Institute headquartered out of Dallas Texas. You can reach Colette at 800-872-7830.