Creativity is key to success and just like any other process at work, it can be trained. Creativity techniques help to see everyday things in a new way, to combine them in unusual ways, and to think differently. We have collected seven helpful techniques for your next creative challenge!
Creativity is neither an expression of genius, nor is it reserved for artists or inventors. Anyone who wants to get ahead as a founder, entrepreneur, or manager needs a constant stream of new ideas: to invent products and services or to optimize them, to change processes and build them more efficiently. We have selected seven useful creativity techniques that help you to develop and improve idealism products, and services.
Creativity techniques consist of intuitive methods that focus on associations and spontaneous ideas, such as brainstorming or mind mapping. In discursive methods, problems are systematically broken down into components, recombined or analyzed. Role-playing games on the other hand combine intuition with analysis and thus help to develop ideas. What they all have in common is that, when used in a team, they produce significantly more useful ideas. In addition, criticism or an evaluation of ideas is not allowed in the creative process.
Intuitive, Analytical, Playful: Useful Creativity Techniques for Quick Ideas
The Osborn method was invented by advertising expert Alex Osborn and helps to improve or tweak an existing product or idea. Question cascades systematically analyze problems and encourage associations. To begin with, walk your idea through these eight questions:
- Can it be adapted? To what purpose or function? Redesign?
- Can it be changed? How or with which characteristics?
- Can it be enlarged? E.g. By adding or enhancing properties?
- Can it be made smaller? By removing or attenuating?
- Can it be replaced? How or by what features?
- Can it be rearranged? New order or new structure?
- Can it be reversed? In sequence: what is the opposite?
- Can it be combined? E.g. with other products, with new functions?
The SCAMPER method is a discursive, analytical creativity method. It improves ideas or products through a checklist of possibilities. On paper, go through the following instructions to play around with your idea or product:
- Substitute components, materials, people, functions.
- Combine functions, services, people
- Adapt other functions, services, components
- Modify colors, materials, sizes, functions
- Put to other purposes
- Eliminate colors, people, functions, components
- Reverse function and elements
The morphological box is an analytical creativity method to optimize existing offers and processes. You start with a table of all essential categories of an offer, for example price, material, form, functions, and size. Then, next to each category, note the desired properties and characteristics. By hopping across the columns, new combinations and ideas emerge.
The Thinking hats method is a booster for creativity and brings different perspectives and needs into the idea creation process. It was already recommended by the cartoonist Walt Disney as well as the physician Edward de Bono. The method is simple: you put yourself in other roles or ways of working in order to come up with new ideas. In fact, it helps to either put on different hats, sit or stand in different chairs or places, or write on differently colored paper.
While Walt Disney used different roles, like the visionary, realist, or dreamer for problem solving, Edward de Bono used different colors connected to different ways of thinking and working:
- Blue stands for orderly thinking and the big picture
- White for analytical thinking and concentration on facts
- Red in turn for emotional thinking and opinions
- Black for criticism and concerns
- Yellow for optimistic and best cases
- Green meanwhile for creativity and visions
Of course, instead of using abstract roles or ways of thinking, you can also work with real persons, professions, celebrities, or customer profiles. In this case, pictures of the personalities help to think and to create.
Oldie but goldie: Brainstorming is certainly the best-known creativity technique for teams and it still works. A team knows a problem and lets questions, thoughts, ideas bubble up. Each idea is noted down without being evaluated. When the ideas run out after 10 minutes, a break can help to encourage new and different ones.
The brainstorming can be varied as brainwriting. With the 6,3,5 method, six team members sit down together and each colleague receives a sheet with three columns and six lines. He or she spontaneously writes three ideas for solving the task in the first row and passes the sheet to his colleague on the left. Within the next minutes, 108 ideas come together easily.
Brainwalking is another intuitive technique suitable for quick ideas and interdisciplinary groups. For brainwalking, everyone walks around a room, writes down their ideas on Post-Its or index cards and staples them to pin walls or places them on a table. In the second phase, the ideas are organized and prioritized. Mind maps are also suitable for this purpose.
In Germany, companies spend 2019 around 41 billion euros on employee training – a good investment, of course. But creativity does not only require training. Above all, creativity requires freedom, time, and inspiration. Companies like IBM and Google set up stimulating quiet spaces, give their employees time to get involved in social activities, or to work on something completely new to broaden their horizon. They occasionally send them to cooking and handicraft classes, to the theater, hiking or canoeing.
What can we learn from that? Getting out, moving around, getting some fresh air and confronting different impressions is the best strategy for coming up with ideas and making new plans.
If you have any questions on how to boost creativity in your team, our experts are happy to help!