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Creativity in a team - how do you solve the blockage in the head?

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Steve Jobs, Picasso or DaVinci - when you hear the word "creativity" you can think of famous people who have good ideas or artistic talent. But creativity doesn't always have to be so obvious.

At first glance, most professions have nothing to do with creativity, and yet creativity can be found in a team or, on closer inspection, in everyday work in all professions. That means, even if your team doesn't have to invent or design anything, increased creativity can lead to better work. As Albert Einstein said: “Creativity is intelligence that is fun”.

Creativity in a team - psychology

Characteristics of creativity according to a psychological definition are problem sensitivity, flexibility or finding new solutions. For example, if an employee notices that the tasks assigned to them are better done in a different order, they have demonstrated creativity - they have questioned given structures and have thus found a more effective way of doing their job. 

In many organizations, however, team creativity is neglected because they do not do creative work in the traditional sense. Increased creativity and problem solving ability can have an extremely positive impact on the Organizational performance impact. Regardless of whether it operates in the creative, software or service area.

A scientific model for team creativity

But how can creativity be promoted in a team? First of all, you have to know the conditions that influence team creativity. Researchers at the Hong Kong University found that, among other things, the goal orientation of the team, the quality of the exchange of information and the individual creativity of the individual employees contribute to how creative a team is (see figure). Probably not the first preconditions you would come up with.

If the goal orientation in the team is good - that is, it is important to the team to be good in their work - communication also works better. And that leads to greater team creativity. 


But should there also be a positive, supportive climate for creativity in the team or company, or should it be “expected” to think creatively. Let's take, for example Apple: Apple has managed to be perceived as a creative and innovative company. If you started there as a fresh employee, I would probably unconsciously assume that I would also be expected to “innovate”. It's kind of in Apple's DNA.

And this effect can be used. Each team can set up its own rules, define its own values - and also undertake or expect each other to approach difficulties creatively.


A simple workshop exercise to activate team creativity


An example of an exercise that can increase individual creativity in a team is the so-called “alternative use test”, Also known as“ paperclip exercise ”. It was developed by JP Guilford in 1967 and is still used in psychology to measure and promote creativity. The idea is to come up with as many different ways as possible of using a paper clip: as a hair clip, hole punch, fish hook ... 


The important thing is that the first step is about the number of ideas and not about quality. I can also use a paper clip to cut spinach into smaller pieces. Is that helpful? In my view, initially not. But when many people in the team express similar “unhelpful” ideas, the likelihood of coming up with completely new ideas increases - which may then add value. Give space! The psychological safety should also be part of the team.


Even more scientifically and psychologically based approachesBy the way, you can find out how you can become more creative and innovative in your team and company in our Team development tool Echometer.


And don't forget: Every person gets creative every day. No matter whether he invents Apple, paints the Guernica or discovers a new way to make his job easier.

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