Returning to tried and tested ideas is the easy option when you're feeling tired, time’s a ticking or the deadline is looooming. But what if you took a giant step back and thought of another way of doing things. Perhaps you recognise there is a need for reinvention, you’ve started questioning the old ways of doing things, imagining new ones and you need a plan to get others on board. Finding time to be playful, get inspired and experiment has numerous benefits for both the company and employees. But making space for creativity is not always easy to justify in an already busy working week so, what if you could commit to spending a small amount of time on a monthly, or quarterly basis instead?

It could be a gathering over some food, to create ideas around a given problem. Maybe allocate staff a small budget and ask them to develop ideas for a direct marketing campaign, or new product. Take turns to learn about something new, then present those ideas back to the team to share the research. Consider short-term job swaps to get a fresh perspective. Perhaps it could be handing the social media accounts over to a different member of staff each week, sharing their behind the scenes photos and accounts of their day. Get a speaker in from a different industry to give an inspiring talk. These are just a few ideas, you know your business and what could work best. Creative workshops, ideas sessions, learning lunches, give it a name and I guarantee staff will look forward to it and make it their own. 

Before you begin with the sessions, it’s worth taking time to think about how creative your business is now, when was the last time you approached a problem from a new angle? Do you always rely on the same voices to come up with the ideas? Sometimes the quieter people in the room have some of the best ideas, they just need the right platform to share them. 

Here’s a fun test you might like to use if your team are suffering from a bit of creative block. It’s called the 'McDonalds theory' and it’s so simple but actually quite brilliant. Pose a question to the group, then suggest an idea which is so daft and obviously not a good one, that it immediately sets the benchmark super low. This has the effect of freeing up others in the group to share their ideas, which they might have been holding back for fear of not being good enough. 

By creating a company culture which makes room for failure and discussion of all ideas, you become wise in the knowledge that you need to spend a little time working through ideas to find the really, really good ones. As I mention to my design clients and make central to my own ways of working - design and idea generation is a process - the first idea is rarely the best, think of it more as a conversation starter.  

Once you have identified some creative ideas, what would be the best way to use them/demonstrate them: blogging, staff interviews, portraits+profiles on the company website showcasing skills and interests, a jam packed newsletter, internal/external newspaper, a video, Instagram stories. 

Benefits of creativity:

  • new ideas for marketing, products or services for you to develop
  • happier, more engaged staff
  • benefits for employee wellbeing, mental health and stress levels
  • opportunity to develop employees skills
  • discover hidden talents among the team that could have real value

Your business might like to seek an outside perspective to help you inject more creativity, someone who’s not living and breathing your business day-to-day, maybe even someone who knows nothing about your business at all. There’s no better person to question existing ways of doing things than somebody who doesn’t know the ‘rules’. Working with a designer, marketer or writer is a great way to inject more creativity and help you pinpoint how you’re being creative now and ways you could improve in the future. Then most important thing is to act on those creative ideas!

By Charlee Sully, Designer at The Usual Studio. Twitter: @TheUsualStudio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about branding, design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny. 

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