Creative Collaboration is the New Whiteboard  

Together we create spray painted wall

Recently, our team ran into a snag. We were trying to come up with new icons for one of Orange Leaf Academy’s newest courses (launching soon!). Okay, we get that doesn’t sound like a “real snag,” but for a group of result-oriented, business-minded folks, we felt a little stuck creatively. So, instead of the team working on the project, toiling and debating back and forth with each other, they opened the conversation up to the whole team. Via an email thread, we were bouncing ideas off each other left and right. This led to a group of some really cool icons (which you’ll be able to see soon in our course!). Getting the team together in this way and going back to the figurative (and literal for our graphic designer) drawing board was really fun! We’re calling this “collective creativity.” Yeah, we’re rebranding “brainstorming.”  

There’s a misconception that creativity is reserved for people like artists, writers, and chefs. We’re here to debunk that myth. Every single person, whether you’re a business leader, finance student, or an executive assistant, has creativity. Let’s explore how to tap into it and the benefits of bringing a little more imagination into the workplace.  

But I’m not creative…

Maybe you don’t feel creative because you haven’t touched a paintbrush since grade school. More likely, it’s common barriers such as fear of failure, thinking inside the box, and time constraints that hold us back. But that’s where collective collaboration comes in. Bringing new ideas to the table can feel daunting. But when you’re in a group of people with different perspectives and backgrounds, it takes a little bit of the pressure off. Especially when you’re all working toward the same goal.

One person’s failed idea can spark the winning idea from the person next to them. Having the confidence to speak up and being willing to say something different (that might even fail) proves you care about working towards a real solution. Say the thing! It could be so crazy that it just might work.  It’s easy to be confident when you know something is going to work. The true test of strength and bravery is being confident enough to say, “Look, this idea is experimental, but I want to try something new and see where it takes us.” Failure is part of success.

Do you think Benjamin Franklin nailed electricity on the first try?! Being so self-assured to try something new – especially in front of your team – shows leadership skills, motivation, and resourcefulness. There are no stupid ideas when you’re trying to make purposeful improvements. As long as no one’s losing an eye, give it a try! (Should that be our new slogan??)  

Curious collective creativity

Okay, but how are we going to be more creative? It all starts with adjusting our mindset. Instead of going through the motions of your day-to-day role, try to slow down and incorporate mindfulness. We know it feels a little woo-woo, but we promise it can help. This looks like: being more present, engaged, and in touch with your thoughts and feelings. This can help you overcome mental blocks and enhance focus, which all adds up to a more curious mind that is open to new ideas. Other ways to stimulate creativity in the workplace can look like:  

  • Taking breaks: okay, not too many breaks – but if you’re feeling stuck on a project or solving a problem, taking a short walk or going to grab coffee with a colleague can help clear your mind when you’re too “in it” to reach a solution. Allowing your brain to relax helps you to come back feeling recharged and energized.  
  • Seeking diverse perspectives: when is the last time you sat in a room full of people to have a good ol’ fashioned brainstorming – we mean “creative collaboration” session? Break out the sticky notes/whiteboard and grab anyone willing to participate – you never know who will have the next big idea when you involve people from diverse backgrounds. Collaboration sessions (even virtually) are great for getting the whole team to participate in problem-solving, with the added benefit of team bonding.  
  • Creative hobbies outside of work: we know what you’re thinking, “who has the time?” We understand that adding a new hobby to an already busy life can feel impossible. Can you challenge yourself to start with one hour per week? Maybe you learn a language with an app, try one new recipe, work in the garden, play an instrument, or start a puzzle. Having a creative outlet that takes your mind off work can encourage new ideas in the workplace. Hobbies make us feel more fulfilled, which also enhances productivity.  

Creativity at Work

Regardless of the industry you’re in, and whether you’re a business leader or individual contributor, there are so many benefits to encouraging creativity at work. Who doesn’t want to have more fun at work? Especially when that fun can lead to an increase in productivity. It’s important to take business seriously, but there can be a balance that allows you to relax and have fun while you’re working on projects or problem-solving. And remember, failure is part of the creative process. By learning from setbacks, you get one step closer to achieving your goal. Hey, even taking a break to read this blog has helped propel your creative process. Now, go take a walk and Grow Big or Go Home!®