How To Get The Most Out Of Your Creativity and InnovationTraining

There’s a lot of talk about Creativity Training and Innovation Training in business these days. Some are for it—some see it as a waste of time. But the reality is, when done correctly, Creativity Training can make anyone at your company more innovative. That’s a pretty motivating prospect—and makes it well worth the effort to get it done right. So what should you look to avoid as you begin steering yourself (and others) towards greater creativity in business?

Pitfall #1: Not understanding or respecting Creativity Styles

It’s important to start any Creativity Training with a discussion about what creativity is, and why we care about it in a business setting. Many people approach the idea of “creativity” with a lot of preconceived notions—or baggage. Here are some common (mis)conceptions of creativity, and “creative types.”

  • Creative people are wacky.
  • Creative people are artistic.
  • Creative people are nonconformists.
  • Creative people don’t follow the rules.
  • Strategic or analytic people aren’t creative.
  • Serious businesses don’t waste time on creativity. They should focus on analytics, results, and proven processes.

Let’s unpack these assumptions a little bit. Yes, we’ve all met the artistic, wacky creative person. But did you know that even the most conventional or logical person can be just as creative—if not more creative—than the freewheeling nonconformist?

There’s a lot of research out there about creativity styles, but for our purposes, we’ll boil it down to a few basics. Creativity is about solving problems, and there are all sorts of ways to solve a problem. While some people like to solve problems by throwing out the rules and inventing something completely new, others will thrive by coming up with different ways to approach the problem within the existing parameters. This is called Adaptive versus Innovative creativity. If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out our newsletter article, Finding the Hidden Innovators in Your Company.

Key takeaway: If you’re looking at any resource on creativity training, and it only focuses on the wacky/artistic/nonconformist type of creativity, look elsewhere.

Pitfall #2: Assuming there are right and wrong answers

This is an easy trap to fall into with any kind of training, because many of us grew up with the concept of “right” and “wrong” answers in school. In Creativity Training, there really aren’t wrong answers. Anything can be fodder for more ideas.

If you’re dealing with a Trainer who seems to be fishing for certain answers, that’s definitely a red flag. Not only does it go against the concepts you’re learning in Creativity Training, but it can easily shut people down if they start wondering whether their idea is going to be perceived as “wrong.”

Key takeaway: Anything can spark good ideas—so it’s counter-productive to label ideas as right or wrong.

Pitfall #3: Unbridled competition and mismanaging overwhelming personalities

If you really want a group to learn how to be creative, everyone needs to dive in and participate. So you really need a Creativity Trainer that’s able to handle all kinds of people. Just like there are different creativity styles, we’re all aware there are different personality styles. Some people love nothing more than to take center stage and wow a group of people. There’s nothing wrong with that—but if these types of personalities aren’t given some boundaries, the more introverted types may feel stifled. Similarly, if the extremely competitive aren’t reigned in a bit, those who are less so may not get a chance to speak–or may even be intimidated that their idea will be skewered.

The best way to avoid this is to have a well-experienced facilitator lead the Creativity Training. While your Creativity Trainer needs to have expertise in creativity, if they can’t manage a group of people with different personalities, you will not get as much out of the training.

An experienced facilitator will be able to deftly maneuver both the extroverts, and the introverts–and everyone in between. They will also be able to mix different types of activities to bring the creativity out of each and every type.

Key takeaway: Skilled facilitation is critical in helping everyone get the most out of Creativity Training.

Avoiding these creativity pitfalls isn’t easy—but the rewards are huge. Companies that make serious efforts to incorporate what they learn in Creativity Training can expect to see benefits such as:

  • Increased participation in innovation, from more employees.
  • A larger number of breakthrough solutions to problems.
  • Better morale—and more efficient teams (with newfound understanding of how to work together better).
  • A reinvigorated company—and workforce—that is well-equipped to meet oncoming business challenges in a new (and effective) way. 

©2013 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jill Reiswig

Jill Reiswig is the Content Marketing Manager at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.