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Team Creativity At Work I and II: Creative Problem Solving At Its Best
Edward Glassman : Building Teams to Help Creativity at Work

Building Teams to Help Creativity at Work

By Edward Glassman, PhD

As a team leader, do you want to spend your time building your team for creativity at work? You really have no choice. You build your team all the time. You continually develop your team in the directions in which you are leading them.

Take care. Everything that happens in your team, and all the qualities that you like and dislike in your team, is a result of your actions. You are 100% responsible! Why? Because you can build your team to be more creative and achieve success, or not.

How do you lead your team? Are you a "star with helpers" or are you "first among equals"? The best approach is a flexible one that depends on the situation. Still, if you want a more "first among equals" style, here's a team building approach that doesn't require using a consultant.

First, set aside time at the end of each meeting to discuss the quality of the meeting, and the quality and the creativity of the results.

Focus the discussion on what went well and what needs improving. Who dominated? Who said nothing? Who helped creative thinking? What hindered creative thinking? How to make the meeting more creative?

Second, ask everyone in the meeting to rate in writing on a scale of 1 to 9 (with 9 the highest) the following issues:

  • To what extent was participation in the discussion equally balanced among all members?
  • To what extent were your opinions and thoughts solicited by the team?
  • To what extent do you feel you influenced the final outcome?
  • To what extent do you feel others influenced the final outcome?
  • To what extent do you feel the final outcomes were creative?

Ask everyone to write a one sentence comment about each of their numerical (1 to 9) responses to the questions above. Collect the ratings and comments, provide a written summary to everyone, and discuss these at the next meeting.

Third, set a norm of open feedback for team improvement. This can be helped by asking team members to discuss the following questions:

  1. Are our discussions balanced so the team heard and considered the creative ideas of everyone? How to improve?

  2. Are our creative contributions and ideas sufficiently examined? Are they clarified, amended, adopted, ignored? Who dominated? Who helped?

  3. Are agreements and disagreements freely expressed in the discussion? How do we help creative thinking?

  4. Are disagreements person-centered or problem-centered?

  5. What is our creative atmosphere like? How to improve?

  6. Does each person contribute to the final team outcomes? What helped contributions? What hindered?

  7. How to improve our creative thinking?

  8. What do you like about this team? Is it creative enough?

  9. What's missing or needs improving in our team?

Open feedback will improve the ability of the team to work together, increase performance, stimulate creativity and creative thinking, enhance results, and bring success.

Fourth, encourage participative interactions in meetings. Don't dominate meetings or you'll hinder people from solving problems creatively. Participative interaction will occur when you all use group discussion skills, collaborate and use consensus decision making, rotate the chair, and periodically discuss ways to improve creativity. If these skills are lacking, you may want to consider team excellence training.

Research has shown that teams trained in team excellence often produce creative solutions of high quality.

In contrast, untrained teams frequently produce solutions of lower quality. Such work groups are often characterized by dominating individuals or cliques, who are more concerned with personal agendas than with team goals. •

© 2010 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »

12/28/10