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Article from The Star: Unleash Your Team's Creativity

Here are a few simple tips that will greatly increase any team's creativity.

Define the challenge
This is the first crucial step to set the scene for creative solutions. Due to the pressures of modern-day life, too many problems and challenges remain ill-defined and solutions are brought too quickly to the table. This is expediency, not creativity.

To present a challenge in a creative setting, one must first define as clearly as possible its root cause: Just ask yourself the question "why" at least three times. This will help to formulate the challenge in a way that directs the solutions to the real problem.

Choose the team
It is an acknowledged fact that the most creative teams are made up of individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. If a team is dominated by individuals who are risk-averse, that is, they prefer abiding by the rules and thinking of past solutions rather than new ones, creative thinking is unlikely to see the light. But if a team is composed of individuals who are willing to experiment and bring new perspectives to the table, more creative alternatives will emerge.

Creativity in action
Numerous books have been written on nurturing creativity, but there are three fundamental techniques:

Brainstorming: This involves the free flow of ideas, from the unrelated to the most speculative. There is no right or wrong at this stage. It is simply compiling an inventory of all the ideas put forward without making a value judgment on any of them.

Thinking outside the box: This is the ability and willingness to make connections between seemingly unrelated issues. For instance, if you give two stones to traditional thinkers, they may arrange them in a certain pattern or construct something with them. The more original thinkers may strike them together, creating a spark and making a fire.

Challenging the obvious: When a proposed solution is rather obvious, it is usually based on tried and tested techniques. The less obvious alternative is to consider the differences and anomalies and what is actually missing and come up with a novel solution. This will lead to a new way of looking at old problems.

Reality check
When the most creative alternatives have been selected, you must make sure that they are also the most appropriate ones in the context in which you are operating. Do a reality check by applying to each alternative a cause and effect analysis. This will enable the team to determine the possible consequences to the outside world during the implementation phase.

Implementation
The implementation of novel solutions takes courage because there is always a certain degree of risk involved. More important, however, is the willingness of the team to experiment and learn as a continuous process. This will ensure progress and a competitive advantage over those who have elected for more traditional solutions.

Clearly defining the challenge and allowing the team to free flow of ideas will generate enthusiasm, motivation and a sense of belonging among team members and will boost the organization's productivity and image.

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