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How To Develop Training Strategies for Creatives


Creativity. It is that human thought factor that results in virtually every innovation known to mankind. It is what brought us the light bulb, the telephone, the computer, and virtually every piece of technology that has been bestowed on humankind. It is what drives a society or an organization forward, whether it is the design of a new product or a new marketing idea. We want to continue to motivate our employees with unique and challenging projects to get as much creativity flowing as possible.

Every organization has a number of creatives – those people who are always thinking “outside the box.” It also has those individuals who, with the right training, can become more creative than they are right now. The point is this: if an organization is to move forward in a competitive environment, it must have as many creative thinkers as possible. And that is an issue of training. Yes, people can be trained to become more creative. And the research shows that those who are trained in the techniques of creativity demonstrate greater post-training creativity.

What Does Creativity Training Look Like?

If an organization makes the decision to engage in creativity training, it must first throw out traditional learning objectives that relate to concrete skills. While creativity is a “skill” of sorts, it has no relationship to the type of training that occurs for a new piece of software or new personnel policy. It has everything to do with a way of thinking. Thus, this type of training may have learning objectives and activities that have little to do with the actual functions of a business. It has to do with problem-solving, experiences, and, yes, the production of novel ideas.

Types of Learning Activities that Foster Creative Thinking

Gone are the lectures and PowerPoints; gone are the concrete activities where there is one right answer. Managers and executives must accept that the training will have nothing to do with on-the-job skill development and must be comfortable with that. If rock music is being played in a training room, for example, and the participants are all creating new dance moves to that music, they have to be okay with that. If participants are sitting in front of easels with a canvas while music is playing and they are producing “works of art,” they have to be okay with that.

While these may be more extreme examples, they are part of a larger picture that will involve any or all of the following:

  • Creative Problem-Solving. Participants will be given unique problems which they must then solve, either as individuals or in small groups One famous such exercise is that of a plane crash on a desert island. The survivors have certain items and must figure out how they are to survive on that island until some future rescue occurs. What creative uses can they find for the items they have?
  • Projects/Presentations. This one can relate to the business itself. Participants can engage in gemba training. They will walk through a department that is totally “foreign” to them, observe the operations, speak with the staff, identify issues of waste, excess strain, and/or unnecessary work. The task is to identify an issue and come up with a way in which that issue might be resolved. The ultimate end is a presentation to the rest of the group.
  • Hands-On Activities. These can be great fun and really stretch the imagination. Give a small group 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, a roll of masking tape, a yard of string and a marshmallow. The objective is to build the tallest tower, and the marshmallow must be on top. The creation must stand on its own.

What’s the Point?

Businesses are facing an increasingly competitive environment in which today’s products/services will be obsolete in months. The extent to which a business fosters creativity among its workforce may well be the difference between thriving and growing or just mere survival. Which would you rather have? Train your people to be more creative, o think outside the box, and you will reap huge benefits.

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