Creative team building

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Creative team building

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A recent study by Adobe of over 5000 people in the worlds 5 leading economies: United States, England, France, Germany and Japan has revealed that only 1 in 4 people are living up to their creative potential. There are some interesting points: 80% of people feel that Creativity is key to driving economic growth Whilst 50% agree that they are increasingly being expected to think creatively at work 75% say that there is increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work 59% feel that creativity is being stifled by the education system – echoing the words of Sir Ken Robinson There were some interesting barriers that people spoke about as a barrier. The biggest surprise to me was that 43% indicated that a lack of money was the biggest challenge to being creative. Isn’t creativity free? Artists are considered highly creative but have one of the lowest per capita incomes around. I fully understand the issue of time (which I have spoken of before) as you have to make time to put the idea into action and make it real. Some other barriers to creativity were: Fear of being judged Finding others to support you I don’t take chances What people wanted most to help them be creative were: Time to think creatively 36% Training to learn and use creative tools 31% An environment to think creatively 30% Tools to create 27% 71% of people also preferred to be by themselves when they create – something to think about next time you head into a brainstorm session. One thing I like about this study is that it is easy. Thankfully, a study on creativity has been represented, creatively! Easy to read, not much text and plenty of colour. There is always lots of negative and positive feedback about any study such as this and this has been no different. Whatever your thoughts, its a great way to think about how you are trying to encourage innovation and creativity in your company and the one I really like, ‘Are you living up to your creative potential? If not, why...

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I really enjoyed an interview I read where Peter Cook was interviewing Professor Adrian Furnham. For me, it was great to read an an article that was low on jargon and trademarked and what I see as the bulls#*t factor. Unlike a lot of academics work on creativity and innovation he speaks simply and realistically.He also acknowledges the hard work (as with any success) involved in developing a culture of innovation. There was a nice sum list at the end the summed up the his view on encouraging personal creativity. Read the article, it’s great. Furnham’s top creativity tips PK: Given that creativity may be necessary but insufficient for an innovative enterprise, I asked Professor Furnham for his top tips to encourage personal creativity at work, learning and play: AF : Here are ten simple but important ideas: Sleep on it:  Come back to problems and issues.  Let them fall fallow for a bit; stew; incubate.  Revisit them when it suits. Read widely: Talk to all sorts of experts.  Get outside your box. Talk to people who think about things differently from you. Don’t give up:  Persistence is the key.  Most attempts fail.  Breakthroughs are rare. Take a Risk: Fear of failure, humiliation, teasing and abuse are natural enemies of creativity.  Go on – play with hunches and tentative ideas.  Break the rules.  Take courage. Piggy back:  Take others’ work and take it further.  Put things together which do not fit. Identify peak times and conditions:  Work out when and where you are at your best for idea generation and refinement.  Set aside these times for those activities. Record your flashes:  Have a place and method to record all ideas – some worth revisiting and incubation. Build your particular expertise/skill/knowledge: creativity is always skill based.  Get to the cutting edge of your chosen area…..there is no substitute for this. Question and Probe the obvious:  Take little for granted; turn things upside down; celebrate similarities and differences. Lighten up:  Be playful; use humour; have a sense of the absurd and the ridiculous....

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A great book has been written recently by Susan Cain called the “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. It has triggered of a rash of debate/feedback/emotions (nothing quiet there!) about brainstorming/group work/collaboration and creativity in general. There are three articles that I read that are worth a look that explore this topic: The brainstorming process is B.S. But can we rework it?  The fortunes of Solitude: Susan Cain on Introverts, The “New Groupthink”, And The Problems With Brainstorming Does Solitude Enhance Creativity? A Critique of Susan Cain’s Attack on Collaboration My thoughts after reading the articles and Susan’s work are that I am somewhat of a fence sitter. I take this position both as a practicing artist/creative practitioner (I think is the current term of phrase) and a business owner where creativity and people are our business. Those thoughts are: The great thing about being people is that we are all unique and different. What applies to one wont necessarily apply to the other. That’s what makes us cool. Great things happen when people collaborate and spend time by themselves. Coming to this argument with my artists hat on, great moments of creativity happen when you are alone in the studio. Playing undisturbed with your art is fantastic. Given that, you also need stimulus from the outside world to keep feeding this creativity going and developing and get some new energy going. Collaborating on art projects is fantastic as you get to mix and mash plenty of ideas together and you also get great feedback on what you are creating. As a business owner in the field of creativity, I cant wait it share ideas with the team and get their ideas and mix into a huge hotpot of creativity. I could not achieve what we do without this collaboration/sharing/feedback. Spending time by myself however gives great time for contemplation and review and when the mind rests, plenty of ideas are unlocked from the subconscious. Plane trips are great for this. If you have an ultra busy life, always being disturbed by phone calls or a household of young kids, these quiet times are ideal on both a personal and a professional level. Brainstorming is potentially crap and potentially great. It depends on how these are run, the environment, the expectations, the leaders of the ‘storm’, the energy and dynamics in both the team and the organisation, how the information is captured. You have to find what works best for you and your team. Try different things, be open to feedback, listen and see and the best way to work will be easily...

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Does Team Building Really Improve Team Work? What Is Team Building Anyway? I came across an article this week in the UK’s Telegraph and also from Peter Kelly, Vodafone UK about team building that raises some really interesting points. The article states that  “Office “team-building'” exercises only succeed in leaving staff feeling more awkward about dealing with their colleagues”. A survey carried out by Vodafone UK and YouGov suggests “workers feel that some organised team-building activities can be a waste of time, and at worst, are toe-curlingly embarrassing.” What made me laugh/cringe at the same time was some of the team building activities that teams had considered the most excruciating. These included: 1. Enduring bikini-clad ‘bed baths’ and massage from colleagues (What is a bed bath?) 2. Holding lingerie parties (I am sure approved by HR before hand) 3. Eating crickets as part of a ‘bush tucker trial’ style event (No animals were harmed in the eating of the crickets) According to the survey, “adrenaline experiences like speed-boating and bungee jumping are considered the least effective team-building activities, followed by trust exercises such as being blindfolded and led by colleagues. Those deemed most effective are social events like going out for a drink or a meal, followed by volunteering and charity work” The article went on to say that while many genuine team building ideas can be beneficial, it was important to get the basics right at work first. Survey respondents suggested the basics were: 1. Providing a more supportive atmosphere at work, 2. Enabling better team communication and 3. Offering tools for flexible working The article raised a few key points for me. I mentioned some of these in a team building post lat year 1. The big point that it raised for me is that anything literally can be called team building, even Lingerie Parties apparently. It’s a fact that there is no formal qualification to be involved in team building or to set up a company. It’s not like being say a lawyer or accountant where you have to have a degree to work in those fields. What someone tells you may be a great team building program may in fact be useless. You may also have a great team building idea/program that is ruined by the organisation of the event or the facilitation. The facilitator may not know his specialist subject area. Anything can be called team building and it can be run by anyone. 2. You have to get the basics right at work first. You can have a great training/team development/conference/team building program but if there is no support from the organisation or...

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The Creative Process: What An Artist Can Teach Us I was at an art gallery this week doing some research for a program we are running. I absolutely love spending time in galleries. I find them so inspiring not only as an artist but also for the sheer amount of self-expression that you see. We were all created with the ability and need to express ourselves (but that is another post) I came across this explanation of the inspiration of a Jeffrey Smart painting Central Station II and I thought it really summed up the creative process well. His words about the background to the painting were: “In the morning, a friend took me for a tour around those strange parts – strange architecturally – in Sydney. We went to Glebe, Annandale….. then Balmain and the houses on the water there, and Leichardt finally. By this time my imagination was stirred to such an extent that when Michael Ramsden, who drove, stopped near Central Station to run off and buy a paper, I saw him and those hoardings in such a way that I thought I should like to have it forever…it was a moment of hallucinatory beauty”. The notes for the painting went on to say ‘Returning to the spot early the next morning, Smart made a number of sketches and drawings from which he developed the final painting when he returned to Italy’  Smart stirred his creativity that day. He stirred it mightily and then most importantly, he went and acted on it. How did he stir it? He really opened his eyes to all that was around him. He thought about the world around him in a different way. We could even say his thinking/actions was out of the box (or out of the studio). He provided his mind with a whole load of stimulus and freshness. He didn’t just look at one building. He looked at loads. He moved. He didn’t restrict his stimulus to a conversation, a text book or a meeting room. He moved and engaged with his environment. All of these things stirred his imagination. Importantly, he was open to it being stirred. He was open to being inspired. He was a sponge ready to soak it all up. He then did something about it. He could have so easily not gone back in the morning. He would have had to change his plans, miss appointments etc. but he went and did it and harnessed his creative drive at the moment. For me, it sums up the creative process really well. You have to allow your imagination to be stirred. You do...

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Over the years that I have been consulting around team behavior, I think that there are some common issues that clients share and always come up, both within teams and within companies on a greater scale. We operate in Silo’s even though we are part of the same team We don’t communicate enough/We don’t share information One of the natural questions that follows  is “So would you like to increase collaboration?” and the answer is always yes.   For me, part of any solution for the client to this has to involve some sort of experiential activity as we all learn by doing. This is mostly classified of as a team building program on the day/s agenda. This made me think – What is more important in a team building program – Collaboration or Competition? If you want to improve team harmony and foster greater communication and collaboration, is pitting everyone in a virtual fight where there is only one winner going to improve collaboration and break down a silo mentality? Will this help build towards a goal of everyone working together more harmoniously?Will it develop relationships that will lead to lead to greater communication? Will you just be grumpy because you didn’t win and take this back to work? On the other hand, competition is fun. The commercial world is about competition. A healthy level of competition may drive better results and most sales teams I have been in are built around this ethos. Maybe your team is getting to comfortable and needs a virtual kick? There is a wealth of information on the collaboration vs. competition debate. My view is that collaboration, overall is a much more important behaviour. Wether you are in a creativity and innovation team, a sales team,  a Human Resources team or company wide, collaborating with all of the great knowedge in your team or company will surely bring better results than working in isolation. What ever your view, next time you are thinking of a team building activity for your team, ask the question, “Given our current circumstances, do we need to improve our level of collaboration or do we need to be more competetive?” That will give you some greater idea of what direction you want to...

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