abstractionFostering creativity. It’s sort of something that has remained elusive. Except for a few companies that are the supermodels of this behavior, most of us don’t feel like our workplace is tremendously creative. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to find the creative bone in some companies’ bodies.

But just because it’s harder to find doesn’t really mean that creativity is any less important in these industries than in others right? In fact, in a creativity drought, it may be even more easily “soaked up” by parched workers. Here are some ways to foster a creative work culture inside a workplace that’s an innovation Sahara.

  • Incubate. Incubation is the process of “not thinking so hard” for lack of a better term. When you allow your thoughts to just flow, you are more likely to have “light bulb” moments. I can almost hear the CFO and operational types now, hyperventilating about their bottom line and paying their workers to NOT THINK. Incubation isn’t for everyone, but even one employee was able to approach a troublesome problem in a new way, this might make believers of the most hardened skeptic.
  • Move. Wellness programs are becoming the HR trend of the decade and rightly so. Never before have we had more information about exercise, eating right and preventative wellness. And the marketplace for products and services to promote team building, workplace wellness and employee health, is growing almost as fast as our national waistlines. While it may not be easy to promote wellness at work, the benefits can result in a more productive employees, less costly premiums and a creative powerhouse internally.
  • Rethink space. True, the open workspaces of the aughts are almost as mocked as the cubicles of the 80s and 90s, but there’s something to having teammates able to, you know, see each other. More light, better communication and an easier flow in the office all lead to getting those creative juices flowing.
  • Free-time. You already have the shortlist of companies that formally allow “freetime” or “20% time” so I won’t bore you by printing it again. Before you start thinking that you can’t do that at your organization, think again. Many of the companies on the list weren’t started decades ago, but even more recently. Pragmatically, if your employee works on something truly amazing on your clock, guess who benefits? You do!!
  • Change of space. Remember in grade school or college when the teacher would get that dreamy look on his or her face and invite everyone outside to “do school”? Remember that feeling of elation you and the rest of the class got? Offer that to your employees. It doesn’t have to be a work picnic but it could be a day to work from home, a team building field trip or just the freedom for a couple of coworkers to grab their laptops and go to the coffee shop down the street.
  • Give them fodder. Sherlock Holmes used to stack card houses while he mulled over cases. Would a ping pong table, chess board, shuffleboard or reading nook similarly inspire your employees to rethink their current issues? I mean, you could just get a deck of cards….


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