It’s no secret that creativity is seen as a desirable trait in an employee. Every employer wants workers who are innovative and can think outside the box, as such thinking could be the best way to come up with the memorable products and the most effective service solutions.
But while most companies view creativity as a boon, on the whole it’s difficult to nail down exactly what it is. Most are tempted to view creativity as a sort of bolt from the blue, an ethereal and unquantifiable substance that some people simply have and others don’t. The good news is this view is outdated. Creativity isn’t a mythical gift bestowed to a select few. In fact, it’s possible to train your employees to better foster their own creative muscles.
How creativity works
The concept of creativity is itself somewhat vague and can be difficult to nail down. However, the first step to adapting training paradigms to encourage creativity is to first understand what exactly it is you want to accomplish, which means that you need to establish some generalized goal. While there is no hard-and-fast definition, California State University, Northridge tentatively outlined creativity as an ability to identify solutions or alternatives in a problem-solving capacity. In other words, creativity is simply a way of looking at things from a somewhat different angle to arrive at new conclusions – a term commonly referred to in business as “outside-the-box thinking.”
With this definition in mind, the classical notion of some people being inherently more or less creative than others begins to unravel. Creativity is less a quality that people possess and more a methodology or a capacity for thinking along certain lines.
Can creativity be improved?
Rom Schrift, marketing professor at Wharton, explained to Human Resource Executive Online that while some people tend to have greater natural capacities to be creative than others, in general, creative thinking can be improved in almost anyone. Just as muscles can be built and toned through exercise, so too can creative thinking be expanded through training designed to open up those parts of the brain that are associated with thinking outside the box.
One important datum is that for creativity to flourish, the right environment must be pleasant. Plants can’t grow without sunlight and proper temperatures, and creative minds can’t develop without a workplace environment that actively develops those traits.
Training for creativity
As a manager or an HR professional designing an employee training program using a learning management system to improve creativity, what can you do to make sure you provide the atmosphere, tools and challenges your workers need to grow into their best, most creative selves? There are several schools of thought on this, ranging from actual training courses to incentive and recognition programs, and you’ll need to choose the one that works best for your organization.
Boxes tend to come up in discussions of creative thinking – specifically, thinking outside of them versus being trapped within them. As HRE Online noted, this can be an essential tactic for fostering creativity. The source reported that providing restrictions and parameters in which employees must operate actually tends to yield better and more creative results than giving learners complete free reign and no direction whatsoever. This type of learning, called Systematic Inventive Thinking, can be easily implemented into your company’s elearning software. HR can create online courses designed to test individuals’ ability to do as much as they can within the given parameters of a challenge, for example – a simple but proven-effective way to build a more creative workforce.