This article comes from Entrepreneur.
You can tap your employees’ creativity by following these recommendations:
When you’re launching a new business or product, team members are busy. All of them have their heads down, focused on what they’re responsible for. Most of their time is spent working with other people in their department. The creative and technical people don’t get much time to interact. There are ways to change that.
At Xoom, we had pizza and beer at 3 p.m. every Friday. People from different groups got to interact in a social environment. As the company grew, those Friday afternoons offered an opportunity to meet new team members, and together we evolved a shared vision of the company. Even if people with different responsibilities looked at the company in different ways, over beer and pizza, we came up with some of our most creative — and collaborative — ideas.
Do something outside the office at least once a quarter. The activity doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. You might schedule a happy hour, miniature golf, or go-cart racing. Whatever it is, getting people to engage in a new setting can build relationships and inspire creativity. By getting your employees out of their comfort zones and getting them to interact with one another can open their eyes to new possibilities.
Declare that for a few hours every month, no one’s allowed to use their computer or smartphone. In place of screens, issue every employee a notebook and ask them to spend the time writing, sketching, and diagramming their thoughts and ideas on how to improve and innovate the business. The novelty of putting pen to paper will force them to think in a different way. After the exercise, encourage them to tear pages out of their notebooks and post them on a brainstorming wall.
You win some, you lose some. But people need to be encouraged to take risks and be creative. They need to know that even if something doesn’t work, these experiences are all a valuable part of growing a business. One way to do this is to encourage your team to experiment with side projects. Many of these will fail, but odds are one of them may turn into your next big idea. And if they try something that doesn’t work, there’s no concern that it will put the entire operation — or the person’s job — at risk.
People who are the most successful and creative are the ones who take risks. They try, they fail, and they learn from their mistakes. Create a culture where taking a shot at something new is celebrated, as long as something is learned.
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