As creative design thinking takes a stronger posture at organizations of all types, it’s easy to assume that hiring creative people is the way to become more creative as an organization.
Having a boatload of creative folks on your team though, won’t do anything to foster creative thinking or innovative ideas if your process and structure don’t encourage creative confidence.
Hiring for creativity also puts the onus for being creative on the “creatives.” That’s a mistake, because people in so-called “non creative” roles often have just as much innate creativity to tap into -- but simply haven’t had the opportunity to do so.
Insecurity, self-consciousness are enemies of creativity.
To foster creative thinking in your organization, you must instill confidence in your team, and make them feel as though they can contribute openly without fear of judgment.
At InVision, we do this through a technique we call, “the bad version.” It boils down to encouraging everyone in a group to throw out their top-of-mind, gut-reaction “bad version” solution to whatever product, marketing or other creative challenge we’re exploring.
The key is to foster a bias toward expression. Being “in your head” in a group brainstorm session doesn’t help anyone, so throwing out your ideas, however “bad,” prompts discussion. By saying out loud, “Here’s my bad version,” you’re acknowledging your idea is raw and unfiltered, removing insecurity from the equation.
Any “bad version” will have a kernel of good. It’s the job of the group to be open to each and every bad version, to contribute their own, and to polish them all down to that nugget of goodness. I’ve been in more than a few meetings where the bad version, once refined, ends up being the best one and I’m sure you have too.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s all well and good, but how do you get people to actually share their bad version?”
As leaders, that’s our job. And we can do it by having the confidence in ourselves to share our own “bad versions” often, and without fear.
Confident expression is the path to true creativity.
A leader who can model confident expression by being the first person in a brainstorming session to throw out their own rough-cut idea will inspire his or her employees to do the same. By holding the collaborative space confidently, a good leader creates an atmosphere that empowers employees and banishes fear of judgment.
Share your own “bad version” in your next meeting and ask your team to help you shave off the bad and identify the good. Then, do the same for everyone else. By fostering confidence in this way, you’ll nurture an atmosphere of creativity organization-wide.