3 Creative Tools to Use With Your Team

Creative thinking happens differently within all organisations: in some, it’s virtually non-existent and in others, however, in others, it’s just how they do things.

How does creativity happen in your organisation or within your team? And does it happen sporadically or as part of every meeting? What processes are used and what tools and techniques are deployed?

We interviewed 100 people to gain some insight into the creative processes, tools and strategies they use. 28 people out of 100 in our one-to-one interview sample used some tool or technique to generate creative ideas in their teams.

However, only three people used a creative process to solve problems or generate creative ideas. And of the three who used a process, two were consultants and one an engineer. They used the creative process two or three times a week. Those who brainstormed or Mind Mapped with their teams did so usually on a monthly basis.

The rest of the group, who did not utilise any process, mentioned meeting only quarterly or yearly to discuss future ideas and planning. (And the latter does not seem to us to constitute the integration of creativity in the workplace.)

So we want to help. We’re introducing you to three creative tools that you can implement into your business immediately.

Three Creative Tools to Use in the Office

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a group creativity technique where participants work to find a solution for a specific problem. Participants gather a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members.

Alex Osborn popularised the term in his 1953 book Applied Imagination. Brainstorming is thought to be more effective than generating ideas by yourself, because people can bounce their thinking off each other.

Osborn offers four rules for brainstorming. Keep them in mind:

  • Focus on quantity: This rule is meant to enhance the production of ideas. Brainstorming aims to facilitate problem solving through the maxim ‘quantity breeds quality’. The assumption is that the greater the number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing a radical and effective solution.
  • No criticism: In brainstorming, there should be no criticism of ideas initially. Instead, participants focus on extending or adding to ideas, reserving criticism for a later evaluation stage of the process. By suspending judgement, participants will feel free to come up with more ‘off the wall’ ideas.
  • Reward unusual ideas: To get a long list of ideas, welcome unusual ideas. Generate new ideas by looking from new perspectives and suspending assumptions. These new ways of thinking can provide better solutions.
  • Combine and improve ideas: Combine many good ideas to form a single, even better, good idea. When group members add to others’ ideas as they are written down or shouted out, it’s called ‘piggybacking.’

Lastly, and most importantly, brainstorming should be fun and create an energy to generate new things.

Mind Mapping

Mind Maps help individuals or teams speedily identify the overall concept and structure of a subject. They can easily see the way that pieces of information fit together. Mind Mapping can also help you to remember information because the format is easy to recall and quick to revise. Therefore, wonderful for presentations!

Tony Buzan popularized Mind Maps. Associations can be more easily made and new ideas generated because Mind Maps are more compact than conventional notes. And if you gather more information after you have drawn a Mind Map, then you can just add it with little disruption.

In addition, Mind Mapping helps you to break down large projects or topics into manageable chunks, so that you can plan effectively without getting overwhelmed and without forgetting something important.

Consider these guidelines for Mind Mapping:

  • Put the title in the centre.
  • Use capitals — you can see them more easily.
  • Use lines for information connected to the centre.
  • Use only one or two words along the lines.
  • Use colour to identify sections and aid memory.
  • Keep your mind free of structure.

Six Thinking Hats

The premise of the Six Thinking Hats method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways. Edward De Bono identified six different modes.

But since the hats don’t represent natural ways of thinking, each hat is only used for a short time only.

The Six Thinking Hats process attempts to introduce parallel thinking when in a group. Ordinary, unstructured thinking tends to be unfocused. The thinker leaps from critical thinking to neutrality to optimism without structure or strategy. When thinking in a group these individual strategies will not tend to converge and so discussion will also not converge. And this can lead to very destructive meetings.

The Hats allow this to be avoided so that everyone considers the problems, benefits or facts together, thus reducing distractions. This is achieved because everyone puts on one hat (eg, the white hat). Then they all put on the next hat together.

So since everyone is wearing the same hat, everyone thinks in the same way at the same time. The only exception, however, is the facilitator, who keeps on the blue hat of leadership all the time to make sure things progress effectively.

Six different thinking styles (hats) and associated colour:

Information (white) — consider purely what information is available; what are the facts?

Emotions (red) — intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling.

Discernment (black) — logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative.

Optimistic response (yellow) — logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony.

Creativity (green) — statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought leads.

Leadership (blue) — outward­-looking, trail­blazing hat.

Ros Taylor Company is a corporate leadership and coaching consultancy changing the way you do business. These tools are just a few of the many techniques our coaches help you perfect in order to drive your performance as a leader.

Find more about our services to help team building and coaching.

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