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4 ways to foster creative thinking in your construction business

3/3/2017 at 10:51 am by

Construction has never been more complicated and demanding. And the need for creative solutions has never been more necessary. Yet the craziness, constraints, and complexity of today’s construction office and job site can often cause employees—and management—to fall back into old habits that aren’t necessarily the most productive. Creativity goes out the window in these situations, as does the ability to be a better, more profitable business.

Creativity isn’t necessarily listed as an objective in most business plans, but in my opinion, it should be always on the mind of company leaders. Without creativity, growth and success are stifled.

How can you foster creativity within your construction company? Here are four things to consider:

  • View obstacles as a catalyst for creativity. I attended an innovation conference a few years ago that was inspiring. Speaker after speaker told their story of how they were solving complex problems—from water conservation to lowering the production costs of healthcare equipment. What motivated these innovators to innovate? Many of the speakers had a similar answer: They were told that what they wanted to do, couldn’t be done!

These innovators are great examples of how the best creativity often happens when people are faced with constraints.

  • Provide an opportunity to think. Stuck on a problem? Take a walk—literally. I learned this “trick” a long time ago. Whenever I’m having trouble thinking of a solution, I take a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long walk—sometimes it’s just a stroll down the hall. But when I come back, the ideas are flowing again.

Turns out, my method is used by a lot of other people and now has scientific backing. In 2014, researchers from Stanford University found that a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking. Sometimes people need time to walk away from their work to think more clearly and get the creative juices moving.

  • Carve out time for brainstorming. The saying “two heads are better than one” certainly holds true for creativity. Encourage brainstorming sessions focused on solving specific problems. And remember, no idea is a dumb one. These sessions are only successful when all participants contribute and criticism is not allowed.
  • Invite others into the discussion. One of the best creative sessions I ever attended involved participants from across the company who typically had never provided input on certain issues. At the end of the day, we had a list of ideas that had never been thought of before.

Sometimes we are just too close to a problem to think creatively. Getting a fresh perspective from individuals outside of a functional area is just what you might need.

Researchers are finding that it’s difficult to identify the exact source of creativity in the brain. Rather it takes increased use of the whole brain to spark creative thinking. The same holds true for companies. Creativity isn’t isolated to a few individuals. It’s about fostering a culture of creativity in which everyone contributes.

About the Author

Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals. You can follow her on Twitter @DebCBConstruct.

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