As unreal as it sounds, success often breeds the killers of your team’s creativity. In the face of continued successes with little or no challenge to tickle their innovation, teams often stagnate and develop a comfort zone. Complacency becomes real and little effort is seen in improving performances. Safe solutions become the norm to even the mildly challenging tasks and creativity takes a nose-dive.
Such a situation can be particularly damaging to sales, marketing and design teams that thrive on creativity. But complacency is not the only creativity killer for your team. Here are a few other things that may hamper innovation if they are left unchecked for long.
Lack of outside view
With success comes a certain amount of organizational inbreeding of ideas that refuses an exposure to new ideas and best practices within the industry. The team, therefore, is not in tune with these innovations outside their comfort zone and never test their own limits of creativity. They get cut off from a regular flow of new ideas and have no access to an information network that can help them perfect those ideas for application in any given situation.
Punishing risk taking
If failure is punished and innovation is never rewarded, the team members draw further within themselves, cutting themselves off from the process of idea generation. Criticism for proposing and trying a new approach drives them to passively wait for direction from senior management and creativity remains bottled up.
New and inexperienced team members are usually under a strong influence of their seniors. Sometimes the censoring is clear as day, while on other occasions, it may be subtle. But the result of such behavior is a cap on innovative thinking of the team. Some of the methods employed by such seniors can vary between -
- Sarcasm and open criticism to ideas of younger team members
- Implying that the idea lacks depth and experience due to the skillset of the presenter and cannot, therefore, be taken seriously
- Bringing the discussion back to a partially explored idea considered safe by them
- Ill-timed tasks and challenges that divert attention from the task at hand
- Discussing tasks assigned to the team with a select group of members
Creativity cannot be limited to an individual’s thoughts. It is a process that requires interactions within a group. Even research indicates that creative thinking is nurtured in a social or a cultural setting. Creativity, therefore, needs the right environment to thrive where team members continuously learn from others and build on ideas generated with them.
This symbiotic learning is severely hampered when team members have limited interactions with each other. As a result, creativity of the team takes a severe hit when the team environment is built to discourage free discussion of ideas among the members.
Lack of creativity hits the team where it hurts the most, making their ideas and actions that are mediocre at best. Its impact is subtle and often remains unchecked as it does not produce errors or leaves any tell-tale signs of damaged interpersonal relations. But it eventually renders the team ineffective and that is a big red flag that needs to be addressed immediately.