Sparking creativity in teams: An executive’s guide

Although creativity is often considered trait of the privileged few, any individual or team can become more creative – better able to generate the breakthroughs that stimulate growth and performance. In fact, McKinsey & Co says its strategy practice experience with hundreds of corporate teams suggests that companies can use relatively simple techniques to boost the creative output of employees at any level.

The key is to focus on perception, which leading neuroscientists, such as Emory University’s Gregory Berns, find is intrinsically linked to creativity in the human brain. To perceive things differently, Berns maintains, we must bombard our brain with things it has never encountered. This kind of novelty is vital because the brain has evolved for efficiency and routinely takes perceptual shortcuts to save energy; perceiving information in the usual way requires little of it. Only by forcing our brains to recategorise information and move beyond our habitual thinking patterns can we begin to imagine truly novel alternatives.

McKinsey & Co explores four practical ways for executives to apply this thinking to shake up ingrained perceptions and enhance creativity – both personally and with their direct reports and broader work teams.

See www.mckinseyquarterly.com

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