Saturday, June 11, 2011

Team creativity a path to success

One of the perpetual challenges for high performance teams is to generate creativity into how they create products and serve customers. But how do we become creative. Lots of teams work on the strategy of hiring someone from outside their expertise area and throw them into your team and watch them create new ways of dealing with the challenges. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Is there a better way without the hit and miss of hiring someone in.

Believe it or not you probably have more than enough creativity within your team, and as the leader it comes down to you to draw it out.

One of the tried and trusted methods to do this is to run a  brainstorming session, many people will use a structure such a De'bonos' thinking hats or the like to work through the process of coming up with ideas, fleshing them out, analysing the good and bad points etc and then finally settle on the idea with the best level of success. I've seen this work in plenty of teams and I've seen it fail.  Often this way of working really suits seems with lots of alpha type people as they are quick to voice their opinion.  In teams where a majority of the people are methodical or analytical  this approach often appears to fail.

The teams that struggle with this methodology are built of people who are reflective and need to run things through in their head before they will voice the idea to the team. Even when you tell these people that you want all ideas regardless of how bizarre they may initially sound, these people often won't come forward.

For these types of team the idea is to run your brainstorming session in short bursts with three or four days between each session. This way those who need some thinking time will have it.  At the start of each short session do a recap of previous ideas and take some time to ask for any new ideas. You will be surprised how many new strong ideas get presented.

As the leaders we need to take time to understand the personalities and their traits so we can implore the right methods to extract the creativity we need to drive or team to greater success. By being a little flexible and not rushing to the obvious conclusion you'll find plenty of creative ideas right with the team. Implementing them that's another story!

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