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Nine factors that can sabotage a team’s creativity during collaborative work

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It doesn’t matter if working with a team is part of your daily routine or if it’s something you only have to do for special assignments, it’s important to understand how to maintain creativity when you work together. With a variety of minds and personalities working together, creative thinking should flourish, but there are a few factors that can sabotage it if everyone isn’t careful.

However, to avoid these factors, you must first identify them. Below nine members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs discuss these sabotaging factors and what teams and their leaders can do to prevent them.

1. Too much or too little structure

Creativity is all about finding the right balance between freedom and responsibility. The most common way to sabotage innovation is by applying too much or too little structure. We will never micromanage our teams to do something new. A team that has been told what to do and how to do it will, at best, follow your orders. At the same time, too little structure is just as deadly. Unfettered creative discussions tend to derail or become circular. The approach I’ve developed over the years is to focus on naming the problem I’m asking the team to solve and defining what success looks like, including an expected timeline. With those guardrails in place, the team is free to explore and think outside the box, while keeping an eye on the prize. If I do this right, we all win. † Alex Furman invitation

2. Leaders who influence the thoughts of others

Always be the last to speak. As a leader, you can do the best for your business to hire great people and empower them to deliver great results. When collaborating, give your team space to come up with ideas and make decisions without affecting their thoughts. Too often leaders start a conversation with, “Well, I think we should do XYZ. Let’s go around and hear what everyone is thinking.” Once this happens, the creativity is already dead because there is immense pressure to just go with what has just been said. Being the last to speak and share your views can help other creative ideas (and often better ideas) to blossom. † Arian Radmand IgnitePost

3. A lack of teamwork

One thing that can quickly ruin a team’s creativity is a lack of teamwork. If not all team members feel that their role in the project is valued and welcomed, this can lead to feeling discouraged and unheard of, which would ultimately dampen the creative ideas they could have contributed if they felt valued members of the team . To ensure that a collaborative project is approached with creativity, everyone’s input must be listened to and respected equally, even if it is not applied. † Ismael Wrixen FE International

4. Don’t involve everyone

A team’s creativity can be sabotaged if they fail to get each person’s opinions and thoughts on a project. The whole point of collaboration is to bring together brilliant minds who create thought-provoking ideas. Not collecting ideas from everyone can lead to setbacks and loss of creativity. It is important that everyone has the opportunity to participate so that their ideas can be heard and considered. † Stephanie Wells Formidable shapes

5. A culture that is critical or sarcastic

Fear of failure is the No. 1 killer of creativity, which is ultimately rooted in shame. It seems an odd dichotomy, but if there’s a culture set that’s overly critical or sarcastic, one that puts down rather than builds, creativity and innovation can’t exist. The creative process is fragile, and when we, as leaders, take a scenario that would cause people to naturally be overly critical of themselves or their ideas and allow freedom of judgment, we turn on the superpower that creativity is. We’re robbing the project we’re getting our hands on if we don’t. Not every idea is a good idea, but every person who has an idea deserves to be respected because they have the confidence to express it and not be judged for doing it, even if it is beyond the scope of what would work. † Nic DeAngelo Saint Investment Group

6. Too many interruptions

Creativity can be sabotaged when interruptions are rampant. Instead of sprinkling someone with questions, coming up with ideas, or pointing out how an idea won’t work, give the speaker the courtesy of communicating their idea before asking questions or providing feedback. When interruptions occur before an idea can be fully shared, it demotivates teams to share ideas that are off the beaten track. † Leila Lewis Get inspired PR

7. The word ‘no’

“No” ends the conversation and the team member who heard it is unlikely to contribute again. As a leader of a brainstorming session, you develop your thinking from ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to ‘that works’ or ‘that should work’. When you direct people on a big creative project, you play the role of a finishing chef who can add garnishes, sauces or seasonings to ideas that are almost there. Leaders only shine when they can say, “Look at the brilliant work my team has done,” rather than, “Look at my brilliant idea.” Think long-term and stay open-minded, avoiding shutting down new ideas from people who may have just gathered the courage to pitch a thought for the first time. † Tyler Bray TK Trailer Parts

8. Negativity

The only thing that can stop a team’s creativity is negativity. I call it “throwing cold water on an idea.” It is when someone or several people have an idea and others say it can’t be done. While some ideas may not be possible, constant negativity on a flood of ideas will stifle one’s creativity. Negativity tends to propagate once it starts, and soon no one is saying anything. The way to avoid this is to pre-determine that no idea will just be brushed aside and that as a team you write down all the ideas to think about the next day or so and see which ones work best. † Baruch Labunskic Rank Safe

9. Back Channel Conversations

Keep all conversations on the same channel. Multiple channels may not obviously derail creativity, but they expand and push people in too many directions. If specific tasks need to be discussed outside the main communication channel, that’s different, but too many conversations in different channels about the same project is a great way to lose focus and momentum and ultimately sabotage creativity. If you find yourself in a back channel conversation, bring the conversation up in the group and encourage a conversation about the back channel. In this way it can be useful and add value to the group discussion and project. † Matthew Capala alphametric

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