5 Ways To Engage Your Team In Creative Problem Solving

Modern-day teams need to develop an innovation management solution for creative problem-solving. Every business wants to facilitate complex problem solving for rapid growth and development and an improvement in workplace efficiency.

Irrespective of where your team is on the creative problem-solving spectrum, there are usually two ways to increase creative problem-solving capacity. Either you can hire creative problem solvers, or you can build capacity and engagement for creative problem solving within your existing team.

The first approach seems quite elementary to execute. However, if you have recruited before, you will know the challenge of finding candidates who fit such a role. In fact, recruiters consider creative problem solving second on the list of most difficult skills to find amongst applicants.

The second approach may seem complicated, but if you execute it correctly, it can help you build a permanent creative problem-solving nucleus within your team. Research suggests that creative problem-solving with training in basic tools and principles of creativity leads to 350% greater idea output. This short article outlines ways to engage your team in creative problem-solving.

Set Clear Objective And Expectations

Creative problem solving begins with setting a specific objective and being clear about the outcome. The objective and outcome will help your team envision the result at the end of the process. However, the process in the middle can often be fuzzy.

New ideas and approaches for solving a problem cannot be produced in an echo-chamber-like environment where everyone agrees with each other. Therefore, you need to set the right expectations, such as having thoughtful disagreements and respecting opposing points of view. Throughout the process, ask your team to express their difference of opinion without being disrespectful.

Use The Diamond Approach

The famous diamond model of design was pioneered by Stanford University. In simple terms, the model requires team members to forgo any criticisms or analysis of ideas during the creative act of brainstorming, also known as divergence. The objective of the diamond approach is to build off each other thoughts and not reject any idea that is brought up.

Divergence is intended to be purely creative. It is followed by convergence when the team discusses the merits of each idea. Convergence, in the form of critique and analysis of the ideas, only happens after the creative process of coming up with ideas has dried up.

Following the diamond model ensures that your team is geared to be both creative and analytical at different points of time. You should communicate with them about the need to keep both processes separate and not rapidly interchange between them. If analysis and critiques get in the middle of the creative exchange of views, then the energy tends to ebb away.

Keep Meetings Sharp And Outcome-Oriented

The best analogy for creative problem solving is a rocket launch, which can be thrilling and exhausting at the same time. For your team to function effectively, their minds must remain agile. You can ensure freshness by keeping brainstorming meetings sharp and outcome-oriented.

You can end every meeting with specific action items for team members. Furthermore, you should take feedback from team members about the entire process. Building ownership in your team for the process is a good practice to guarantee that they truly buy into it.

You can also consider praising any positive examples shared during engagement sessions. The approach of creative problem solving can be novel for some of your team members, especially the ones focused on analytics. Such positive reinforcement can be very powerful in helping your team internalize the different aspects of creative problem-solving.

Besides, who doesn’t like a bit of praise for their work?

Find The Right Collaboration Tools

If you are setting objectives, clarifying expectations, and using the diamond approach, then a significant amount of hard work is already done. The three ways mentioned can already help you potentially produce good results. The next two just take it to the next level.

Firstly, you should find the right idea management software that suits your team’s requirements. While there are several collaboration tools available, picking one with seamless technology can be the difference between a good experience for your organization and a great one. Be sure to involve the team in researching the tools to further build a sense of ownership.

Build Psychological Safety

This one is a no-brainer. Creative problem solving more often than not involves thinking out of the box. 80% of people see being able to tap into creative potential as vital for economic growth, but only 25% of people feel that they are utilizing their full creative potential.

Creative problem solving requires your team as a unit to be open to experimentation to iteratively find out what works, and what does not? Your organization may likely consist of members who do not have confidence in their talents and potential. Not only this, but they may also be in the habit of following standard processes.

For your team to engage in creative problem solving, the entire group will need to feel psychologically safe about speaking their mind. They need to feel empowered enough to push the envelope with their thinking and even disagree with you if and when required.

Remember: healthy, honest disagreement can only happen if each member of the team feels the institutional level support and safety for their jobs.

An Iterative Process With Continuous Adaptation

Creative problem solving can help your team and organization move ahead of the game in what is increasingly becoming a volatile and uncertain business environment. Besides the five ways shared, there are many other tips and tricks that you can employ to engage your team in generating creative ideas for complex problems.

If your team members are new to it, then they may take time to adapt. Consistent communication and positive reinforcement become paramount, so don’t lose sight of these aspects.

Ultimately, creative problem solving is an iterative process that requires your entire team to buy into the mindset of continuous experimentation and brainstorming. Making sure your team members are engaged in the process of creative problem-solving.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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