2 Exercises to Make Any Team More Creative


Could your workplace use a splash of positivity?

Does the door need to open to make room for creativity?

By improvising your way to creating a “Yes!” space, you and your team can establish an environment where ideas flourish.

And it all starts with greeting every idea with agreement.

Now, just because you agree with an idea, that doesn’t mean that every employee will be running around, implementing their idea.That’s NOT what will happen.

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In the idea phase, and to build a space that lets innovation run wild, a few things have to happen:

  • People need to feel free to share ideas.
  • These ideas may be reasonable and doable, and they may not.
  • Every idea needs to be given equal recognition.

Here’s what will happen if the environment doesn’t allow for these factors:

  • People won’t feel respected.
  • They won’t contribute.
  • You won’t create a spirit of creativity, where great ideas happen.

Creating a space for “Yes!” to happen is vital to innovation and performance. When contributions are validated, the result is a high-performing team that’s committed, accountable and excited.

But just what is required to create this kind of space? Where conflict isn’t invited, but true collaboration is?

Set the stage for collaboration that leads to creativity by trying one of these activities with a partner or your team.

Exercise 1: Conference Calls (for Teams)

Make your conference calls more useful, and decrease the distractions (checking the phone or writing an email), by establishing accountability and respect. Here’s what to do:

  1. Invite as few participants as possible so that it’s easy to engage the group.
  2. Engage the senses. Start off by engaging the senses. Have the group all eat a piece of candy or pick up something tactile. Paint a word picture or tell a story.
  3. Before the meeting, divide the agenda and assign each participant a section. They’ll have time to prepare and take ownership of their assignment. During the call, make sure you follow the 90 percent rule: Your contribution should be 90% questions so that other people will do 90 percent of the talking.
  4. Prepare a list of the participants so that during the call you can call everyone by name and ask them to share an idea or comment.
  5. During the call, ask each participant to share one thing that has gone well recently in their role. At the end of the call, encourage everyone to commit to one action that they will take based on the call.
  6. Say “Yes!”. Every time someone contributes (whether it’s during the call or any other time), recognize it. Say thank you, support them, or just respond positively  –  and they will continue to contribute ideas.

Exercise 2: Saying “No” in the Yes! Space (for Partners)

There will be times when you need to say no. But when the situation involves another person, you need to find different ways to say no.

You’ll learn to communicate in a way that invites people into collaboration (instead of conflict), opens new avenues for negotiations, and leads to better client interactions.

Instead of saying no, learn to ask open-ended questions to discover what the person really wants and uncover their needs and motivations.

Find a partner and practice:

  1. Lay these ground rules. You can’t say any of these words during the role-play exercise: no, but, however, not, if, or any negative contraction (like “can’t,” or “won’t).
  2. Choose one of these scenarios:
    1. A child in your care has discovered a big can of blue house paint and is about to paint their body blue. Tell the child “no” without using any of the words listed above.
    2. Someone senior to you at work wants a national-scale project done on your already-tight local budget. They believe you’re the one to make it happen. Tell them “no” without using any of the words listed above.
  3. Evaluate. Did you have a hard time with the exercise? It’s too easy to fall back on telling or demanding, using negative words to communicate. But what if you tried to first understand? What motivated the child to choose the color blue? Was the senior manager aware of your constraints?
  4. Ask questions. Instead of demanding or telling, use questions instead. Opt for phrases like “Help me understand” or “Tell me more about your ideas behind this.” Instead of having to say no, you might find middle ground. And your partner may realize that the better answer is indeed “no,” without having to say the word.

Remove “No” from your vocabulary, and say “Yes” instead  –  to collaboration and creativity.

Where do you struggle with saying “Yes” and allowing colleagues the space to flourish?

This article is 100% written by a human named Karen Hough. She is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, in the top 4% of women-owned businesses in the US, a 3-time Amazon bestselling author, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.