Creativity - Use It or Lose It

I recently read a quote from Maya Angelou that I can’t stop thinking about.  She said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

She’s absolutely right – as if I’d ever disagree with someone as talented as Ms. Angelou.

When it comes to business, don’t we want our employees to be as creative as possible—unless their job requires they a task that is highly specific—like a surgeon.  Not sure I want my surgeon being too innovative while removing my appendix

So, if creativity is to be encouraged, let’s talk specifics about how managers can maximize the creativity their employees possess.

To get started, managers should let employees know that they are open to hearing them and genuinely seeking new ideas and approaches. And if your team brings new ideas to you, listen and withhold judgment before you agree or shoot the new idea down.

We’ve talked before in this blog about avoiding phrases like, “No, that won’t work here” or “But we’ve always done it this way” or “We tried that in 2000 and it failed miserably.”   Nothing will shut down creativity like being told what you’re proposing is a bad idea.

Encourage your employees to take a step back from the routine work and imagine how it could be better. It is so easy to get caught up in just getting things done and not consider how something might be improved.

Try reserving one staff meeting a month to hold a classic brainstorming session. Start by setting ground rules that should include things like:

  • Be specific about the topic you want ideas about. Let people know ahead of time so they can come with their thoughts and ideas
  • Get as many ideas out before you analyze each one
  • Don’t criticize someone’s idea
  • Get everyone involved.  Don’t let one or two people dominate the session.  Encourage your introverts to participate
  • Make it fun. Play music. Use colored markers and sticky notes.  Liven things up

Odds are if you encourage creativity you will get it from your team and remember the words of Maya Angelou, “The more you use, the more you have.”

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