Once you’ve been working with the same people in the same environment for some time it can be difficult to come up with new ideas to solve problems. In fact, you might not even be able to see the problems – you’ve lived with them for so long that you don’t notice them anymore.
Projects involve all kinds of difficult situations and you need to be able to think creatively to find ways around them. Whether that’s how to deal with a challenging stakeholder, a change to requirements or the fact that the risk management process isn’t working very well at the moment, there are plenty of opportunities on projects to think creatively about problem solving. So if your team aren’t very creative, what can you do?
Everyone has the capacity to be creative, although you may have to help them sometimes! Here are three suggestions for boosting creativity in your team.
Bring in someone new
A new pair of eyes can help you identify problems that your old team members have had to live with for some time – to the point where they aren’t bothered by them any longer. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be fixed or improved! Just because something has become a habit or you’ve developed a workaround doesn’t make it right.
The new person could be an outsider – a completely new recruit from another business who has come to join your project team in a particular role. Or it could be someone from another department. This happens when the project takes a new turn and you need to involve a different group of stakeholders. You’ll also have this situation when someone on the team leaves and you have to bring in an additional resource to fill the gap and take on their responsibilities.
The benefit of having someone new on the team is that it changes the whole team dynamic. As the new person works out how they fit into the team and the project the environment changes around them to accommodate them and their working style. You’ll see people change and adapt to this new person. This alone sometimes can have the desired effect of shaking things up and helping prompt a creative response.
If you can’t see this happening on your project because you just don’t have the capacity to accommodate new resources and no one is leaving you can still benefit from a fresh pair of eyes. Bring in someone different to facilitate a project meeting, such as a colleague in a project management role or someone from your Human Resources team. The simple fact that someone different is in the room could help your team come up with some creative solutions.
Change the scenery
It’s almost summer, so time to think about opening the office windows and blowing away the cobwebs. If you can, get outside for your creative sessions. Brainstorming takes on a whole new light if you are sat under a tree in the grounds of your office. No trees or park near you? What about a coffee shop? Sometimes even hiring an external meeting room can have the desired effect.
If your budget won’t stretch to that or you don’t want your team to meet off-site, think about using a meeting room in-house that you don’t usually use, change floors or borrow someone’s office. Take your laptop with you so that you still have access to your brainstorming software. Something like iMindq will work on your PC in another venue once it is installed.
The point is simply to have something different to look at instead of the normal walls of your office space. This can have the effect of prompting creative thinking because your brain isn’t processing the same information as it normally does.
Shake up roles
Does Aktar always have to lead the risk register review? Does Jordan always have to take the minutes? You can generate some creativity by changing things up a bit and asking people to take on different roles. OK, so you can’t have a graphic designer writing technical requirements necessarily, or your project accountant suddenly start writing code in a development role, but you can switch some of their responsibilities around where it makes sense.
Taking on something new can be a creativity boost because it requires looking at something (the project) from a different perspective (that of their new role).
If you really can’t swap people around and shake up the team responsibilities, then at least try to give people the opportunity to work shadow their colleagues and see what they do every day.