The Ultimate Guide to More Creativity At Work

Aylin Ihnen, August 2022

Craft stunning results, work innovative with teams, and rapidly raise productivity by trying these creativity techniques!

As a business and marketing consultant, with one foot in the design field and the other in technology, I’ve learned a thing or two about creativity methods and I put them to good use on almost a daily basis.

When working with clients, the main purpose of agile methods isn’t to simply manage work updates; it’s to foster creativity and motivate teams.

With that in mind, I would like to share a collection of my favoured and most impactful creativity methods you can apply for your next Sprint Planning, Workshop, or Team meeting.

You can utilize them in any organizational structure to promote teamwork, develop innovative creative products, and improve productivity.

Read on to discover the trending, fun, and effective selection of techniques.

Introduction

In today’s fast-moving and competitive world and a growing workforce competition via Artificial Intelligence (AI), creativity at workplaces has never been more critical.

Working with creativity techniques is essential in contemporary, innovation-driven work environments. This specifically applies to User Experience Design (UX), Customer Experience Management (CEM), Marketing, Product Development, Sales, and HR business units.

Over the last decade, the corporate world, as well as many international and domestic SMEs, have felt the consequences of tough competition in global markets.

One of the core challenges to leading a company to success and keeping ahead of competitors, the owners, board members, and managers continuously need to attract new talent and retain the most highly qualified professionals and subject-matter experts who are versed in modern business processes.

While older business models relied on compliance, static workflows, and long-term strategies, newer businesses know that rapid change, agile business strategies like “Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)”, and an experimental approach to new product & service development are what keeps businesses on alive nowadays.

For this reason, creativity at workplaces has gone from being ignored to celebrated — which has given creativity techniques a substantial boost.

Especially, the toolset of intuitive creativity techniques to continuously generate new business ideas at workplaces is highly recommended by business facilitators and agile coaches.

In corporate, applying creativity techniques is often a hidden secret, but the most successful enterprises all utilize them. Different companies apply different strategies. That is why you should always stay up to speed with the most effective toolsets.

The Magic of Creativity Techniques

Creativity techniques are capable of increasing motivation, directing staff activities towards implementing plans, mobilizing talented employees, stimulating professional ideas, and boosting team efficiency. These techniques also help solve work-related challenges much more effectively.

New technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Mobile Applications (APPs), and Web 3.0, are disrupting the business world.

Organizations are increasingly taking an agile approach to product development, project execution, and innovation, which is impressing upon employees the need to be constantly creative.

Creativity methods, creative thinking, out-of-the-box thinking can be generated by applying creativity technqiues.

How Creative Thinking is Utilized in Agile Work Environments

The point of Agile is to produce results faster but feels like a recovery exercise.

It’s no wonder that there’s usually not much time left to search for creative ways to solve existing problems.

Creativity is a fundamental component of the, i.e. Customer Experience Management (CEM) process. CX professionals utilize creativity throughout the entire end-to-end development process, i.e. to define requirements, generate ideas, help to develop prototypes, and usually test them via field experiments.

Step 1: Establish a Free Workplace Culture!

User and/or Customer Experience (UX) business units are one of the most challenging and demanding work environments.

Teaming is a great catalyst for creativity, although it can also create barriers to open communication.

During the development cycle, UX professionals work in close quarters with Marketers, Developers, Project Managers, and Quality Assurance (QA) professionals. This makes it easier to have brainstorming sessions around user experience problems, prototypes, designs, and testing results.

However, the high level of involvement makes it difficult for team members to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts.

That's why it is indispensable to create a workplace culture that allows every member of a team to work freely, authentically, and creatively.

One essential way toward this goal is to apply daily creativity methods as an integrated part of daily work challenges.

5 Creativity Techniques for Workshops & Meetings

Here is a selection of my most favored creativity techniques which can be applied on various business-related occasions.

  1. The Random Question of the Day Technique

random questions are a powerful way to stimulate your team’s creativity. If you include random brain-teaser questions in your daily meetings, your team will be more engaged and think outside the box by default.

The Random Question of the Day will give you an easy way to test your employees’ skills across different departments and around the world, while also entertaining them with different brain games. Just utilize platforms like Reddit, or Quora to find trending topics.

2. The Three Brain Warm-Up Technique

The Three-Brain Warm-Up consists of a series of creative exercises that gets the brain moving. The warm-up is most beneficial as a creativity method when used to kickstart the working day or to shake participants out of a rut or dip in productivity.

The three-brain warm-up can be used as a stand-alone exercise, but I would recommend doing it before or at the beginning of your team meeting, or workshop to jump-start your minds.

The team will divide into small groups of 5 people. The main person stands in the middle of the team, while the remaining four people stand in front of the main person, behind him/her, and on each side at his/her shoulders.

The group members standing behind and on either side of the main person ask simple color-related questions like “What color is grass?” Questions are repeated until they get an answer correct.

The person at the right-hand shoulder asks a simple mathematical question that can be answered by either number or word association (i.e., What is the sum of one and one? Two).

The person that stands in front of the main character starts random movements, mimics, or gestures that the main character in the center has to repeat. After 20–30 seconds, the group rotates until each person was in the center once.

The challenge is that the person in the center has to activate three different parts of their brain by answering a mathematical question, a visual question, and repeating physical movements, all at the same time, which stimulates creativity.

3. The Color Chain Warm-Up Technique

The Color Chain Warm Up Exercise is a method that helps optimize communication and project processing skills. Great for team building, seminars, or project planning sessions.

The exercise is perfect for a group of 6–12 attendees, that should line up in a circle and choose one captain.

First Round with Colors

The captain has chosen a color for the second person in the circle, and that person then allocates a color to the third person, etc. until everyone has a color. The last person in the group then allocates a color to the captain, and the process starts over again with the captain giving the second person the same color as before.

Once the first round is completed, the captain of the group starts again by giving the second person in the loop the same color as before and starting the chain over. The captain repeats, getting faster with each round and requiring all participants to repeat the correct assigned color.

The captain stops the chain after each round and asks the participants to remember their color.

Second Round Animals

The captain starts with a new chain — using a different category, i.e. animals.

The people in the circle allocate each other different animals, and the captain replicates the chain a few times until everybody repeats their animals correctly.

When the second round is completed, the captain will run both of the rounds, color, and animals simultaneously. The attendees get challenged to retrieve two different types of information and listen to two people.

Third Round Languages

When the second round is finished smoothly, the captain adds the last piece of information, i.e. Languages.

The technique challenges people to listen to three people at the same time. You learn to trust the participants to give you the correct information when you need it.

This creativity technique promotes the foundation of good teamwork, which includes trust in team members, and taking over responsibility for your work tasks.

4. The Red And Green Feedback Technique

This constructive feedback technique starts with a general question. One example could be a trainer requesting feedback from the group after the first training day.

In this case, the trainer would start by asking how the group liked the first training day.

Afterward, in the second and third steps, the trainer would require red and green feedback. The red feedback is to express worries, discomfort, or criticism. The attendees that want to give red feedback are asked to give constructive feedback by considering the feedback rules and give hands-on suggestions for improvements, or other recommendations.

The recipient of the red feedback is asked to listen quietly and respond with a “thank you” at the end.

Green feedback is intended to express positive elements of the first day of training and things to continue on future training days. The feedback rules of the red feedback apply here as well, including listening silently and responding with a “thank you” at the end.

This technique is a good example of a “closed feedback method” which implies that the attendees of the training are required to give their responses as short and concisely as possible.

5. The (Online) Card Sorting Technique

The card sorting creativity method can be used in both ways, onsite or for an online workshop. The perfect group size is 4–6 people, to prevent time loss due to large group discussions.

The card sorting technique is usually applied when you have massive amounts of information that you need to structure, categorize, and organize.

The method is divided into three subtypes: Open Card Sorting, Closed Card Sorting, and Hybrid Card Sorting. In all three subtypes, team members are required to arrange and categorize different topics, with lots of different types of information.

In the open card sorting technique, participants are asked to create names for categories. Example: In a group of marketing and sales professionals, participants are asked to come up with headings and categories for their respective domains, i.e. Online Marketing Channel Categories, and Online Sales Channel Categories.

In closed card sorting, team members are given the respective categories into which they are then to sort the various pieces of information. For example, in a large website project, the project team is given the categories “Customer Experience”, “SEO” and “Editorial Content”.

The attendees would then need to take various subdomains to those topics and group them under those categories.

This type of closed card sorting is wonderful for online meetings or webinars with a set agenda and goal.

In hybrid card sorting, team members are provided with predetermined categories, but they are also given the option to create their own categories. This is usually the case when large amounts of information and data contain topics that do not correspond to any predefined categories.

The biggest benefit of card sorting is that it allows team members to think more creatively, while working on a task together, sharing and discussing ideas to reach the goal together.

Card sorting is also used to get more insight into how your team members think about a specific topic, or project, and what they associate with the information provided to them.

This is one of the techniques that provide a fun and actionable break from the rigid agenda of an online meeting or webinar and encourages collaboration in form of team brainstorming.

Online Tool for Your Webinar Creativity Sessions

During a webinar or an online meeting, performing a card sorting session is easy and fun when you work with an online card sorting tool.

These tools are usually easy and intuitive to use — without a lot of training.

They have the advantage that you rapidly see the results.

One example is a tool you can find on OptimalWorkshop.com. This website offers many creativity-promoting features for webinars and online meetings. The card sorting feature is available via the OptimalSort tool.

Closing words …

Creative thinking has been democratized in the past decade and is not just for artists, painters, designers, or authors. It’s an important component whenever you want to solve a problem.

If you want to be the person who can solve even the most complex challenges in your work environment, begin by using creative techniques to find the solutions that others might have missed.

The more you work on thinking creatively, the better you will become at overall problem-solving, and generating new innovative ideas.

In my next article, I will speak about ASMR & Meditation Techniques at Work — a free, relaxed mind is the base of all creativity.

aylin ihnen on medium.com

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store