Improve team creativity – focus on the individual

Once a week I make tabouleh. One week, some years ago, I had all my ingredients except the burghul wheat. On a whim, instead of going out to buy some, I boiled some quinoa and added that instead. Once I had broken with the conventional recipe, it felt fine to continue by adding some currants and some roasted pumpkin seeds. Wow! It was delicious. Now every time I make it at least one person asks me for the recipe.

In her book The Firefly Effect, Kimberley Douglas tries to debunk three prevalent myths about creativity. First, it is something you have or don’t have. Second, it is something you do rather than something you are. Lastly, creativity is something that only rare geniuses possess, people like Di Vinci or Shakespeare. Douglas suggests that we look at creativity as a continuum. At one end there would be those whose creativity has deemed them worthy of exhibiting at the Louvre or of winning a Booker Prize, at the other end there are those who whip up spectacular meals out of measly leftovers or put together stylish outfits from second hand clothing.

Very few of us would consider ourselves at the Di Vinci end of the spectrum, but can’t you recall a time when you did something simple but creative? Maybe it was when you thought you would need to make two trips to the tip but you packed the trailer so creatively that you fitted it all in and more!

Or a time when you looked desperately for wrapping paper and innovated with newspaper or a tea towel to create a gift wrap that your friends still talk about today?!

We are ALL creative! (Am I starting to sound like a broken record?!) Every single person in your organisation: the account executives and the accountants, the receptionists and the managers, the designers, architects and engineers and the policy makers…. AND yes, you!!

What happens is that we all forget, we get caught up in rationality and efficiency; in getting things right.

Take 10 minutes to explore your past for your tabouleh moments. When you were little, what were some things you loved doing or that you were good at? What is it that you love to do when you are not at work? Really love? Let that guide you, give you clues.

The only obstacles to getting creativity sparked up again are our beliefs – can you acknowledge and hold the thought in your mind that you are creative? Say it out loud right now: I AM CREATIVE! Go on!

See it to believe it? How about as Wayne Dyer so cleverly coined: believe it so you can see it?

If everyone on your team is moved towards this acknowledgement; this recognition of a rightful place on a creative spectrum, then your team is ready for some serious (and not so serious) team creativity and innovation.