4.10.2 Creating favourable conditions for exchanging ideas

Besides strengthening individual skills and personality aspects to have novel thoughts, we should also create an environment inside the company where it is easy to exchange the emerging new ideas, where sparks fly.

We have already seen how the management style, organisational culture and reward system would promote skills to be creative, but with group activities and reorganising some physical conditions we can foster group creativity as well.

Step 5. Enhancing work in teams - group cooperation
Usually we get a task, which means we start solving it ourselves. Especially in an SME (naturally this is depending on the country as well) we are not used to cooperation through teamwork. However, in a well-managed team, reaching to complex and novel solutions seems much easier due to the different perspectives we have.

 Here are a few hints, tips to exploit:

  • Form small groups of 3-12 if you want to reach creative results. This is the optimal size where people usually do not feel shy to talk about their own ideas.
  • Invite experts or stakeholders to your group to think together. Try to make it as diverse in background, way of thinking, and previous knowledge as you can1.
  • Spontaneous teaming: you see an interesting problem that another group is working on and you can join to be part of it.
  • Before calling for your colleagues to cooperate in a team, the leader of the meeting should decide on the structure of the topics to be covered. Write a draft beforehand and see how  it improves effectiveness!

E.g. meeting leaders can use the following questions to have a successful meeting:

  • What are the aims / what should be?
  • What kind of background do we have from our past or present expertise?
  • By what means can we achieve this goal? 
  • Which tools/means should we use to achieve it?
  • Who would be the responsibles of the sub-tasks and with what deadline?

Make sure everyone has the opportunity to form an opinion! On the other hand, respect the time as well. If you are going into side-roads, cut it off and get back to the original question itself. Meeting leaders are responsible for the time of the meeting’s participants as well.

Step 6. Use the advantages of your physical environment, resources and tools

Building on group creativity is possible if the knowledge base and information is available for everyone, if they all know the goals and they all are aware of the ideas others bring on. Favourable physical conditions can help you in that:

Here are a few hints, tips to exploit:

  • If you can, try to organise meetings in rooms where you can all sit in a circle, perhaps round a table or on the ground, on pillows. It is the best, if everyone can see everyone else.
  • As much as you can, try to use a board, and leave the drafts there for quite a while after the meeting so that everyone could have a glimpse on it.
  • Bring in books, articles, charts, reports, and put them in a lobby or a common place, where people can reach them.
  • Having a common e-mail box (even with different clients) or server with all the documents of the projects suggests that everyone is welcome to contribute.
  • If you have any access to the nature, use it! Go out sometimes for brainstorming or chatting and relaxing. If you don’t, try to put plants or large pictures with forests, water-falls, hills or ocean/lake/see or basically of any landscape. Researchers found that they can help people to come up with novel ideas.2 

1 About CoP – Communities of Practise please see 11.2 until 11.5 of this guide
2 About CoP – Communities of Practise please see 11.2 until 11.5 of this guide