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IBX Insights

Activities to Boost Creativity in the Workplace

By September 13, 2023Innovation
A group of coworkers engage in a creativity exercise in a conference room.

Creativity lies within each of us. Many might think this is an exaggeration, but everyone can be creative. The challenge is in finding ways to tap into that creativity.

People might view creativity as an artistic ability. But creativity is also about solving problems, improving processes, and coming up with new ideas. We’ve all been in meetings where we need to do these things. Being creative on demand can be hard, especially if you feel disengaged, tired, or intimidated by the task. But there are ways you can get those creative juices flowing.

It starts by thinking of creativity as a muscle. Before athletes compete, they warm up. Creativity works the same way. Warm-up activities can get the brain ready to imagine and innovate.

30 Circles

This is a great warm-up activity, especially if you are going to be brainstorming or sketching. The goal is to turn blank circles into recognizable objects in a short period of time.

You need pens and worksheets that have 30 blank circles in a 6 x 5 pattern. This can be an individual or group activity. Each person gets a worksheet and has five minutes to transform circles into different objects by drawing on them. You can use a smiley face as an example but give no other directions.

When time is up, ask each person to reflect on their drawings. If this is a group activity, have the group members share their drawings.

This activity reinforces how time limits can motivate us and help us focus. It also reminds us that one challenge can produce different solutions. A circle can be a face, a beach ball, a sun, the earth, or a hundred other things.

No-Look Portrait

The goal of this activity is to sketch someone without looking at the paper. This is a quick way to create connections between strangers or deepen connections between people who know each other.

You need paper and markers or pens. Split up the group into pairs, with each person sitting across from their partner. Give them a few minutes to draw each other without looking at the paper. When time is up, each person reveals their sketch to their partner.

This activity usually brings out laughter and positive energy. When people are having fun, they become more comfortable with each other. And that mindset can boost creativity.

Bad Idea Brainstorm

This activity is a fun way to prepare for any type of ideation task. The goal is to come up with as many bad ideas as possible for a specific challenge.

Start the activity by establishing your challenge such as, “What are the worst ideas for a 60th birthday party?” Using sticky notes, pens, and a whiteboard, write each bad idea on a sticky note. You can also do this with a virtual whiteboard. Come up with as many ideas as possible during the allotted time.

When time is up, ask participants to share their ideas. Or, you can sort the ideas by theme and share them with the group.

Take this activity a step further by practicing idea prioritization. Once all ideas are shared, ask each person to pick their three favorites. This gets participants familiar with prioritizing ideas and voting. Participants can use sticky dots to identify their choices. Then, ask the group to reflect on the results.

Creativity is a valuable skill in the workplace. Solving work-based problems often requires innovation and imagination. Use these warm-up activities to get you in the right mindset to ideate, collaborate, and engage.

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Nick Olejniczak

Nick Olejniczak is an Innovation Consultant on the Innovation Team at Independence Blue Cross. Nick’s role on the team has evolved over the years from his work on the B. PHL Innovation Festival to now producing and facilitating innovation sessions. He has a strong passion for ideation and the creative process. He believes in collaborating with others when looking to identify the best innovative solutions.