09 Feb 5 Tips for Being Creative at Work
If you Google “Top 10 Life Skills” creativity is at the top of the list.
An article in the “LinkedIn: The Learning Blog” by Paul Petrone, January 2019 describes Creativity as the number one soft skill that companies most need. Do you need to be more creative at work? Are you looking for innovative solutions? Are you tired of doing the same thing over and over? Does your search for innovation include devising new methods to train your team and energize your sales meetings?
It can be overwhelming to come up with new concepts. Much of my work with pharmaceutical clients revolves around the training experience at annual or quarterly sales meetings. I am constantly being challenged to create new experiences for the participants to achieve both the business and learning objectives.
I’ve witnessed over and over with clients that creativity is not an innate skill but rather one that can be developed. The following is a list I’ve used to fire up my creativity. This is what works for me and if you can apply 2 or 3 of these concepts in your situations, I’m convinced you will find the creative process more enjoyable.
1. Don’t try and be creative in a vacuum.
Ideas need air. They need to be talked about and built upon. Find some colleagues or friends to share an idea. When you put it out there, build on it with them. When I work with clients, I am rarely locked in my office coming up with creative experiences and then revealing it to them like I can do magic. We have conversations and bounce ideas off of each other. Inevitably the end result usually looks completely different than what was originally proposed.
2. Always build on other people’s ideas – use “Yes, and…”
It’s a technique taken from stage improvisation when you accept and build upon whatever your stage partner gives you. There are no wrong ways of doing things. Everything is accepted. I apply this technique during those conversations with others about ideas. It might start with using apples as part of workshop and morph into deconstructing a pie recipe to teach the group about teamwork. You can’t control the creative process; you can only feed it and nurture it. The hardest part is to avoid discounting ideas as impossible until you have worked them through. If you were to sit through a design meeting with a team at Circle de Soleil, you would witness the active use of “Yes, and…”. No idea is a bad idea which explains the fantastic performances that company continues to provide year after year.
3. Drill new idea wells – invest in yourself
I work with a small number of clients with repeated interactions. I can’t recycle ideas or experiences with those clients. It needs to be fresh. I have to constantly create from what is around me. Sometimes my inspiration well runs dry and I need to drill a new one. That’s why I invest in my own development outside of the pharmaceutical industry. At least twice a year I will participate in workshops or conferences that are slightly off center and abnormal. I usually choose personal growth or coaching experiences. They provide me with different ways of learning that inspires my workshop development. It’s difficult to apply directly some of those experiences in the reality of pharmaceutical sales. For example, it would be hard to blindfold 50 representatives and have them walk through a maze trying to find the exit. Where in reality the only way to succeed is to connect to your own vulnerability. Sometimes the ideas a too crazy and I run into roadblocks with the client. Yet, there are elements I can bring into those situations to enhance the workshop experience. I encourage you to drill those new wells and inspirations.
4. Don’t get attached to your own ideas
This goes back to the “yes, and…” because it’s about creating something that everyone buys into. When we get attached to our ideas it comes from a non-collaborative place. Often our ego is getting in the way of our success. The best way to pull people into an idea is to demonstrate flexibility by incorporating their ideas. I remember proposing a workshop to a client that involved the concept of chaos. Meaning there were a lot of variables in play and the participants had to assess and react in the moment to changing circumstances. There was minimal structure and once we started the simulation with the large group of sales reps, the facilitators and stakeholders would have little control of the outcome. It was a brilliant idea to create real obstacles and challenges for the sales reps to apply their territory management skills. The workshop was highly experiential which meant the participants would feel the workshop in their bones and not just in their heads. I kept pushing this idea and persuading the client that it was needed. The problem was I stopped listening to their needs as I was too attached to my own. In the end we adjusted the workshop to be more in- line with their business objectives but it took me awhile to come around.
5. Be a great creative partner for others – reciprocate
An effective practice in developing your own creativity is to help others create. When someone comes to you with an idea, be that supporting and listening partner that builds on it. Don’t be the person that immediately looks for the holes and the reason it won’t work. Have them wanting to come back and collaborate more with you in the future.
If you are looking for a creative partner, or someone to develop creative ideas for your next sales meeting, let’s talk.