What Creativity Training Looks Like

It’s hard to convince people that they need training. All trainers know this. Every training developer on the planet has a story, some variant on the same theme. “This training is vital for my employees; they must learn these skills! Oh, but not now, they are too busy at the moment.” Yep, because they’re too busy using an axe to pick up that chainsaw.

It’s understandable. Even when training is essential, it can be put off a little longer. Even if it can’t, it feels like you can. You have to meet that customer today. You must finish that report now. Learning how to do those things, well, it’s not as urgent.

In my experience, even when there is a willingness to take training, there isn’t always the availability. That’s life. Crises happen and there’s always something urgent. But it means that even with all the support and enthusiasm in the world, getting people to your course is hard.

When the course content is as fuzzy as ‘creative thinking’, it’s even harder.

Again, this is understandable. Creative thinking can wait a day or two… right? Besides, in the back of everyone’s mind is the Really Bad Soft Skills course. Maybe it was strategic thinking, negotiation skills or empathy building. The topic doesn’t matter because the content was irrelevant. The course was full of words and empty gestures and ‘how did that make you feel’s. Touchy-feely. Designed to elicit an emotional response but learning something, not so much.

It’s thanks to these bad examples that people have a poor view of this sort of training. (The great examples, of course, don’t get factored in). This is the perfectly reasonable objection you need to overcome, before you can overcome the other obstacles.

These obstacles are why, despite every major organisation claiming to foster innovation, creative thinking training is so rare. Even if people had the time, they’re thinking that this will be their new Really Bad course horror story. In their mind, deep down, they are anticipating a course where you fingerpaint and roleplay as astronauts and do other useless stuff they can’t apply in the real world.

It’s nothing personal. It’s just that they’ve been burned before.

But what if there you could get around these objections? What if you could teach your team to think creatively? What if there were a program that taught innovation and would go down as a Really Good course? What if you could generate repeatable improvements – even when people are too busy for training?

What would that be worth to you?

In this series I’ve talked about learning creativity for yourself and teaching it to a team. This post will describe what creativity training can look like. Given the subject matter, you’d expect it to be free of the usual constraints. No PowerPoint presentations with a barely-relevant quote on slide 2. No stuffy classrooms with faulty computers and faultier chairs. No content that sounds great but is just one more thing you don’t have time for.

Creativity isn’t daydreaming. It’s action. It comes from the root word ‘create’, which is not something you can do in a traditional classroom. You can’t learn algebra or driving by reading about it – you have to do it to learn, and creativity is the same.

Of course, the difference with creativity is that everyone can already do it. It’s a skill hardwired into the brain, like sensing hunger or detecting movement. In that case, the training has to be about bringing that skill to the surface. It has to encourage the learners to embrace and accept that style of thinking in themselves and others. It’s a skill, yes, but it’s also an attitude adjustment.

All adult learning has to be relevant to the learner. Our brains crave context – why we want to learn something is more important than what it is. Teaching innovation can’t be about learning to paint or express yourself through poetry. It has to be about creative thinking in the workplace, to achieve results.

And, of course, the training must be efficient. It must be short, sharp and to the point. It must immediately produce results to crush hesitation. People give you many reasons why they can’t complete your course. Don’t let them. The training must undercut every point of resistance.

All this is a tall order. Can any training live up to it all?

Creative Thinking for Teams delivers against all these points, and more. It exists outside the classroom. I designed it to be taught in the workplace, at the learners’ desks. It turns the classroom on its head by getting the learners to work individually, then come together to share and discuss.

The course covers some theory about creative thinking. Learners profile themselves and the team to access their styles and identify shortcomings. In other words, it’s all about them. From there, it is hands-on. The learners don’t hear about creativity; they create. The first creative task is to identify a problem facing the team. The second is to develop solutions to it. Again, it’s all about them. The course overflows with relevance and value.

As for efficiency, the pilot course I ran speaks for itself. The course took about five hours (two hours face-to-face, plus time spent outside these sessions) over about two weeks. The learners overwhelmingly agreed that they learned things they can apply in their jobs. And to sweeten the pot, the course produced a series of recommendations for improving the way the team operates.

This is how you teach creativity – by getting the learners to create. This is how you convey concepts – by making it about them. And this is how you sell the course – by producing immediate and unique value. Creative Thinking for Teams is powerful enough and flexible enough to help any organisation perform better. It is simple enough that anyone can run it. And it’s valuable enough to be repeated again, and again, and again.

Embrace creative thinking today. Change approaches at unfathomable speed. Those teams that can harness creativity will thrive, while all others will falter. The opportunities and threats are stronger than ever. Now, more than any other time, such a small investment in creativity can lead to incredible results. Your organisation deserves to unlock its creative potential, so be sure to do it right.

This post is part of Creativity Month over at Mindwalker Training.


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