People tend to think of creativity in terms of artistic pursuits, but the ability to think creatively has benefits in problem-solving, too. Whether you’re a creative professional, printer or marketer, something as simple as altering your environment can have a positive impact on your ability to generate new ideas.

Creative PeopleSince a recent career shift from sales to marketing has me one step closer to the design process of creative marketing campaigns, I thought honing my creative skills would be a wise choice. I have invested time in a Coursera class based on the popular book Creative People Must Be Stopped: 6 Ways We Kill Innovation Without Even Trying. The course is led by David Owens, a professor at Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management and author of the aforementioned book.

One section of the course I found particularly interesting is the focus on group constraints and ways to establish an environment that is conducive to inspiration and sharing of ideas. Some of these suggestions may be helpful in your organization, or they may help you create this type of environment if your creative process takes you to an offsite location, such as a client’s office or a neutral setting.

  • Get out of cubicle-land and the claustrophobia that it can foster. Gather the team in a large room. It gets them away from the task-oriented mindset that goes with sitting at their desk, in their cube. It is preferable that the room not have glass walls where outsiders can see in and make participants feel inhibited.
  • If possible, use tables that are not rectangular with seats across from each other. The seated across arrangement can give more of a confrontational feel. Better to use a round or unique shaped table.
  • Have plenty of media or access to media. Have multiple means for people to communicate ideas. Screens to show internet access or other media. Large easel notepads with multiple colors of pens. These tools allow the collaborative ideas to be visible to everyone.
  • Provide notecards and scratchpads for each individual. If people have trouble verbalizing their idea, have them draw it.
  • Use video to record key ideas and any documented ideas. This helps restart time if the meeting cannot be completed in one session.

This is a small sample of helpful information in Professor Owens’ book and class. He shares many stories of corporate America’s successes and failures in the world of innovation. The stories are entertaining and lessons can be learned from them.

What are your tips for creating an environment for inspiration and teamwork? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you.

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