As a project manager, it’s your role to balance the time it takes to foster creative thinking to get the optimal results without delaying your timeline. Here are a few tips for encouraging creative thought without wasting time and resources.
Eliminate Common Reasons for Lack of Innovation
Innovation is vital to all businesses. Leaders often adopt the technological and creative innovations from industry leaders or consultants but hesitate to encourage real creativity and innovation in their own organizations. Employees can be restricted in their creative abilities by the culture of an organization, rules and regulations, or their role expectations.
As Chief Learning Officer Magazine explains, many leaders who appreciate innovation may still accidentally suffocate creativity in their own business. The magazine points to a few of the most common ways that businesses unknowingly stifle innovation.
- Don’t think about the “big idea” – Because too many leaders are looking for the next “big idea,” they miss the numerous small ideas that can offer a better competitive advantage than one big one. Other businesses copy big ideas quickly, but small innovations can make a significant impact on a daily basis.
- Focus on creativity, not control – Too many businesses are focused on control and approval, which can limit employees working on fringe ideas that could advance the company. Siloing employees in different departments and restricting budgets can hurt the kinds of small cooperation that encourage new ideas. CLO suggests removing some bureaucratic restrictions to allow for more idea-driven work.
- Don’t limit who can be creative – By assigning only some employees creative tasks, you may get some creativity, but you’re missing out on all of the other employees’ ideas. A widespread culture of creativity can be far more successful.
Instill Creative Discipline
The way to innovation isn’t through letting team members sit around all day thinking. Fruitful creativity requires just as much effort as meeting deadlines. In his book “Creative, Efficient, and Effective Project Management,” Ralph Kliem explains that people frequently underestimate the importance of discipline in creativity. Kliem points out that creativity must be expressed sparingly to keep ideas fresh, and thoughts must be fleshed out so that they’re understandable and logical to others.
As a project manager, strive to create a structured and disciplined routine that fosters creativity within the boundaries of a schedule. Build it into your communication plans and meeting schedules.
Curiosity is often the beginning of innovation. Tomas Chamorro-Premmuzic, Professor of Business Psychology at University College London explains in a Harvard Business Review article that the curiosity quotient (CQ) can be as important as the intelligence quotient when it comes to complex situations. People with higher CQs are able to take a more nuanced approach to ideas and problems, and are much more invested in learning. Helping a team member explore this curiosity can lead to different viewpoints, creative ideas, and a true investment in the project.