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BusinessAlexander Graham Bell said it best: “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds!” Cultivating this cooperation within the workplace can create those rare gems of innovation.

One of our differentiators at CBDx is that we collaborate with our clients. We always start projects with at least a phone call, if not a face to face meeting. We might know marketing, but our client’s know their business. We think that the best success happens when those two sources of knowledge meet.

Collaboration is not only important to our clients but also to our employees. They thrive in an open, innovative and supportive environment. But how is this environment fostered? Many workplaces utilize “brainstorming,” a concept founded by Alex Osbourne to spur the ideation process in a team.

Contrary to popular belief, brainstorming sessions do not always produce the best concepts and ideas. “Brainstorming sessions tend to exclude the potential contributions of an entire population of the problem-solvers who happen to be more introverted. And for those who do participate, there are still limitations to expression.” (Forbes)

When asked to create an idea in a brainstorming session, typically there is a moment of awkward silence followed by someone piping up with their idea, which gets the rest of the group “off the hook” for that meeting.  Sound familiar?  According to Forbes, studies show that many participants of a brainstorming session either consciously or subconsciously feel pressured to go along with the dominant idea or pattern of thinking. This psychological tendency, called collaborative fixation, inherently leads to conformity of ideas and reduces the possibility of original solutions.

Collaboration in the workplace can sometimes be challenging to foster however there are ways to set the tone for creativity.  One way to encourage ideas is to have everyone individually think about what solutions or ideas could be brought to the table and then gather the group back for a meeting to hash them out. A healthy debate can assist with selecting the top ideas from the group.

Another alternative is “brainswarming”, an approach founded by Dr. McCaffrey. “To start the process, write the goal or problem you need to achieve or solve on a big piece of paper and have your team sit silently and write down different ways to tackle it with your company’s resources in mind. Once the right resources are found, you’ve come up with your solution.” (Inc.) To learn more about this concept and see a visual of how it all works, find the video here.

The key takeway that we found is that there is no one answer or concept when it comes to cultivating creativity in the workplace and to keep an open mind.

Tell us, what sparks creativity in your workplace?