3 Mindset Changes to Spark Workplace Creativity and Innovation

Photo by Ivan Samkov

3 Mindset Changes to Spark Workplace Creativity and Innovation

When you think about creativity, your mind naturally turns towards creative pursuits like storytelling, painting, or making music. But it’s so much more than that!

Creativity is a mindset. It’s about seeing possibilities, thinking beyond the norms, and coming up with fresh ideas and perspectives. 

Creative thinkers have a huge competitive advantage in every industry because they’re better equipped to innovate, adapt, and problem-solve. That said, the day-to-day processes and priorities of work-life seldom nurture creativity. In fact, the opposite is true.

In most professional settings, efficiency and task-based productivity are favored above giving folks the time and space they need to explore and innovate.

To rise above the competition, and harness the power of workplace creativity, you need to change some common – but limiting – mindsets:

1. Let go of the belief that there’s one perfect idea/solution.

This kind of tunnel vision thwarts creativity because it’s dismissive of anything that doesn’t immediately feel on-target.  

When it comes to ideas, you need to start embracing QUANTITY. Instead of pushing yourself and your team to come up with one great idea, encourage everyone to come up with five or more options. 

The more the merrier! Nothing’s off limits. No concept is too far outside the box – or the budget.

Note: This is more than brainstorming because when you brainstorm, you tend to knock off the “bad”, or “impractical” ideas rather quickly. To nurture creativity, you need to savor every idea. Let them swirl around for a while. And examine the relationships between various thoughts and concepts. 

Play with ideas before you start judging them!

“Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” – William McKnight

2. Embrace small failures.

Fear of failure crushes creativity and innovation because it encourages us to play it safe. So, if you want to turn the volume up on creative thinking, you need to tweak your mindset about failure.

Stop thinking of failure as the opposite of success. Instead, think in terms of experimenting. When you try something new, instead of getting stressed out about whether it will work or not, focus on the data you’re collecting and the new things you’re learning through this experiment.

When you treat small failures as valuable learning experiences, you reduce the fear of trying new things.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook

3. Demonstrate your commitment to creativity by valuing – and protecting – unstructured time.

Creative thinking doesn’t always look like work. In fact, it often looks like the opposite of efficiency and productivity.

One of the hardest mindsets to change is the belief that creative thinking is a task that can be scheduled (i.e. the dreaded brainstorming sessions). Or that creativity and innovation can happen in the slim spaces between meetings and deadlines.

Because that’s not how human brains work.

To think creatively, we require unfettered time and space. We need to explore, and play, and daydream.

Creativity demands freedom, so if you want to encourage creative thinking, you need to consciously build a work schedule that values thinking time. 

Most of the successful people I know block unscheduled time into every week, so try it.

At first, it may feel uncomfortable. Most of us love the satisfaction of completing daily to-do lists. And it’s hard to protect our time from the goblins of email, social media, and impromptu conversations.

But be strong! Insist on giving yourself – and others – time to think.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

To nurture creativity and innovation in the workplace, you need to open your mind to a broader definition of work. Ultimately, you need to develop processes that value thinking as much as doing.

It won’t happen overnight (because most worthwhile changes don’t). But it will be worth the effort because creativity and innovation breed success.

Also… creative thinking isn’t just good for the bottom line. It’s good for your soul. Your imagination wants to fly free!

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