A natural outcome of project management is increased team creativity and innovation. But some projects will need more than others. For example, if you are a creative marketing team or have complex problems to solve as part of the project.
Want your project teams to be more creative and innovative? You can take the next step by GRADually changing your organization's culture to enable and support higher creativity. Each specific change is accompanied by a solid example, and when you look at them closely, you will see all these elements present in the most creative environments.
Give Time and Space: Creativity and innovation take time. If you are working heads down on task after task, it is difficult to think of new things. When Google was founded, employees were given 20% of working time for side projects. This has not only increased creativity, but boosted productivity. AdSense and Gmail were two of many products that were developed as side projects. Other companies have followed suit with similar results.
Reward Implementation: Acknowledgement is an important team-building tool. One of the 7 principles of acknowledgement is that it will improve the well-being, alertness, and energy levels of those receiving it. Acknowledgement can also include appropriate awards for those who have exceeded expectations and implemented creative projects and ideas. Zappos, for example, encourages employees to award fellow employees with a $50 gift card once a month for going "above and beyond." Their reward system also provides for reward credits which can be used for training and gifts. With increased energy and productivity, people become more creative.
Add Diversity to Teams: Teams where everyone "thinks the same" will hardly ever be creative. They lack the spark that generates productivity. On the other hand, diversity brings more energy and more ideas to the table. Johnson+Johnson values diversity so much, they have built it into their Credo (their code of ethics and professional conduct). They believe that open hearts and open minds can unleash the potential for productivity.
Don't Pressure Results: Making change takes time! Creativity takes time, and should not be pressured. Sure there are stories of extraordinary results when lives are at stake, but ordinary work does not do well under pressure. Harvard researchers have found that creativity is usually stifled when there is pressure for results. In fact, they found that with increasing pressures comes decreased productivity and creativity.
You won't be able to make all these changes overnight or you will have the same poor results from pressure. Start with a few small changes in each area: provide acknowledgement training, implement small rewards, and increase time project team members have to work on other things. Over time, these steps will yield higher productivity, creativity, and innovation. And once your projects have been spotted having these results, it will be just a matter of time until these practices are adopted organization-wide.
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