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While we would love to construct playground slides between our office floors, and invite puppies to nap under our desk, we here at openbox9 have come to the harsh conclusion that this is not possible (yet). One of the most important things that come from slides and puppies is they help foster creativity. Creativity, defined as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, or relationships and to create meaningful new ideas,” is important in any industry or business that wishes to grow and expand.

Innovative ideas and solutions are not so easy to come by. It is widely believed that creativity declines as people age. Many scientists attribute this decline to the development of habits, ways of thinking, and routine. Many of us get accustomed to how we solve problems, which prevents us from thinking of new solutions. So how do you access these a-ha moments while not wasting time and resources?

  1. Relax and enjoy!
  2. I know, crazy first rule for a workspace. But people who work in a relaxed and enjoyable environment are far more likely to develop innovative and creative ideas. Even fast-paced industries can adapt this rule to their workplace. By allowing yourself and your peers to feel comfortable and invested in your workplace, you are already taking the first step toward fostering creativity. How can you make your workspace more enjoyable, a place you look forward to spending time? Start a quote wall, put a plant on your desk, break out some play-doh, or share your favorite playlist with your co-workers.

  3. Break the routine.
  4. Insight often comes from changing what you’re doing. If you’re stuck on a problem, staring at your computer is probably not going to help you solve it. Stand up, stretch, go for a walk, or play darts. Moving to a new position or environment forces your brain to take in new information and may spark new ideas. While routine can increase efficiency, doing something different, even if inefficient, makes you think differently, leading to new ideas. Frustration and discomfort are not always bad things, just part of the process.

  5. Encourage collaboration.
  6. No matter how great an idea is, there is usually editing involved. Discussions and teamwork are key parts of turning a good idea into an awesome one. Small group brainstorms help everyone feel comfortable sharing ideas and encourage every member to participate. Be willing to kill your pride and welcome criticism – if your idea is truly good, it can take a hit, and chances are your colleagues’ ideas will improve the final outcome. Trust each other.

  7. Recognize, reward, and celebrate!
  8. In order to foster creativity, you must recognize it. In day-to-day office life it’s easy to forget about accomplishments. There is always something new, due, or waiting. It’s important to not only implement good ideas, but also acknowledge and congratulate the hard work it took to get there. Schedule a debrief conversation after each project or milestone. Share kudos with those involved; ask questions about how to improve, and lessons learned. Be generous with your ideas, your mistakes, and your successes.

Hopefully these tips help creativity and innovation thrive in your workplace and daily life. Whether big or small, we’d love to help make your ideas come alive!

Annika Lurio