Despite the fact that many companies still insist on defending traditional models, many of them have already woke up to a new era where creativity in the workplace is a key factor of cooperation and innovative thinking.

In the traditional and outdated command and control situation, employees were encouraged to be simply told what to do.  Managers were afraid allowing employees to speak their mind would just bring chaos and undermine their authority.  Now most employers are eager to hear and encourage suggestions from their employees.

Creativity can lead to an increased level of cooperation and innovative thinking among employees which all leads to better ways of working and enhanced results.

What is creativity in the workplace?

Unfortunately, some people still link creativity to the idea of an exceptional way to think, which see no barriers, and exists just with the purpose to go against the rules. This means creativity is often seen as having no place in a serious and business-like company.

One of the functions of creativity is the ability to create solutions, especially when facing challenging situations. Creativity in this context has everything to do with stretching the budget, being innovative, thinking outside the box, making the best of stressful situations, and seeing things from a different angle.

Encouraging creativity in the workplace is a great idea for any business. The more ideas on offer, the better chances you have to find the perfect solution. New ideas can take your company in a different direction, and so helping your employees to tap into their creativity can give you a real competitive advantage.

Creativity and cooperation

Innovative thinking and creativity can be one and the same thing.  But what about cooperation?

When a leader decides to create a bridge between creativity and cooperation in the workplace, they are growing the possibilities for greater ways of working as a team. While some people might come up with better ideas when working alone, the majority will become more creative in groups.

It is through conversation across the team problems become clearer, and people can practice more focused and creative thinking while incorporating concepts and ideas they may not have otherwise considered.

When your team recognises what they can accomplish as a group, they will be keen to work collaboratively more frequently. Working together in this way can have a great impact on the creation of a more healthy work environment.

How to encourage creativity in the workplace

So how can you encourage creativity and turn into a key factor in cooperation and innovative thinking among your employees?

Creativity isn’t an exceptional talent that some people have and others haven’t. Everybody can be creative, just at different levels.

Here are some ways to encourage creativity, cooperation and innovative thinking in the workplace:

1. Suggestion boxes

The old-fashioned suggestion box still should have its place in any company.  A physical suggestion box keeps the possibility of anonymity in a better way compared to any other method – remember that everything sent online, especially inside an organization, is potentially traceable.

2. Brainstorming

Brainstorming meetings are a helpful environment to encourage creativity, cooperation, and innovative thinking to come together.  I often use the “Paperclip Exercise” to help demonstrate how brainstorming works.  Attendees are asked to come up with some ideas about the uses of a paperclip.

Natural innovate thinkers can sometimes come up with 20 + ideas in about 5 minutes, some only a handful.  But when you put all the ideas together, you can achieve over 100 ideas collectively.  Some ideas are whacky, but truly this shows the power of collective brainstorming. This technique can be used on any object, problem or solution.

3. Feedback meetings

Feeback or focus meetings introduce a forum where it is your employees who are coming up with the ideas.  You might be asking them to identify problems, or improvements, or areas they want to discuss.  The trick here is they have free rein to discuss any topics they like.  You should not go in with any agenda in mind.

4. Conducting innovative surveys

And last but not least, you can try conducting surveys, and ask your employees to send you their thoughts about specific topics. This technique is the best option for multi-located companies, or when the workload makes it impossible to set a proper meeting.  This is not an employee feedback survey and to generate ideas you must design the survey to provoke employees to think outside of the box and be creative.

Final thoughts

Creativity really is the key factor to encourage cooperation and innovative thinking among your employees. And it isn’t that hard to make it happen.

But, more important than anything, you must create an environment where people won’t be afraid to speak their minds. For instance, you can make everybody more comfortable by telling them some weird ideas you come up with yourself and have a laugh about them. Being human, forgiving and vulnerable is key during this process.

You never know, encouraging your employees to be creative can be just what they need to feel free to share ideas.

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Dante Munnis is a blogger and idea maker from Stockholm who is interested in self-development, web related topics and success issues. He shares ideas for students living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance.