How to Be Innovative and Creative at Work (12 Easy Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 1, 2022 | Published October 18, 2021

Updated June 1, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Innovative and creative solutions are important in any company. Being innovative at work helps improve productivity and can make work more enjoyable. Learning more about how to be innovative can help you develop this skill through learning and practise. In this article, we review 12 ways which can help you be more innovative at work, explore what being innovative means, and learn how to develop the skill.

12 tips for exploring how to be innovative at work

Here are 12 tips on how to be innovative that can help you:

1. Go for a walk

Everyone has their own methods to give their brain a creative boost. One popular way to encourage creativity is to leave your workspace, even if for only a short walk. Exploring outside and getting fresh air can help you break up your routine and refresh your mind, inspiring more creativity. Leave your phone and other devices at work to allow your mind to relax on these walks. Paying attention to and taking notice of your surroundings on these walks can quickly invigorate your creativity.

2. Provide your brain some relaxation

Your mind can benefit from some downtime to rearrange your thoughts and come up with new ideas. Allowing your brain to relax can help improve your creative flow. Consider spending down time, like your commute or lunch break, to let your mind wander, as these times are usually the most creative moments.

3. Create an inspirational environment

When you find items that inspire you, put them on display around your workspace. It may be anything from a newspaper headline to a well-written email that made you laugh. Try replacing the items often to keep your surroundings fresh, which helps to keep your mind engaged.

4. Find an innovative partner

Pick a colleague you feel comfortable working with and discuss ideas together. A partner keeps you accountable, and brainstorming sessions with another person can help you develop new ideas. You can partner with a person for a set period and choose a new work partner for the next task, to keep work new and innovative. Having two people with different outlooks and experiences working together encourages new ideas.

5. Have creative time outside work

Having the same routine every day can train your brain to process in the same way, decreasing creativity. Set aside an hour once or twice a week to go to a new place and rest your mind. Pick a place that is quiet enough to think and somewhere you can be undisturbed, but have some creative stimulation. For example, a coffee shop where you can sit with your drink, observing your surroundings, can bring surprising new insights or ideas.

6. Be curious

The ability to be innovative applies to your personal life, as well as your professional one. To be an innovative person, broaden your perspectives and find new ways to get out of your comfort zone and learn about new fields of expertise. Curiosity is something you often see in common with innovative people. A broad outlook and world view develops original thoughts, helping you make connections with other creative people.

7. Have stand-up meetings

Repetitive and tedious meetings often end up being unproductive. Having stand-up meetings changes the energy of the entire team. A stand-up meeting is where all the participants are typically standing instead of sitting around a conference table. The discomfort of standing intends to keep these meetings as short as possible. Standing helps the team move faster, keeps them active, and increases creativity and innovative ideas.

Related: How To Build a Successful Team in 8 Steps

8. Focus on nutrition

Your brain is a muscle that needs proper nutrition to be creative and innovate. Ensure you feed your brain with food rich in nutrition, including unprocessed foods, green vegetables, fresh fruits, and nuts. Sometimes indulging in your favourite food can also help keep you happy, which is important for fostering creativity.

9. Perform small scale innovation

People often think that innovation means to have ideas that are large and transformative. You can implement small, novel changes to your life quickly and efficiently to prepare for bigger innovations to take place later. Changing small habits, such as the way you start a presentation or sign off on your emails, can help your colleagues and supervisors take notice of you.

10. Begin the day with creativity

Many people have the habit of checking their phones for notifications and emails as soon as they wake up. Try doing something different and stimulating, like listening to music or meditating. Giving your mind time to relax and be imaginative in the morning can make you more creative throughout the day.

Related: Improve Your Creativity Skills To Highlight on Your Resume

11. Create limitations

Having constraints and limitations can inspire you to be more innovative and force you to think creatively. Try removing certain resources and tools from your work environment and explore the implications. This exercise helps you create new and innovative ideas on how to do the same old task differently.

12. Bring your ideas to life

Put your ideas into words and turn your words into actions. The more physical form you give your innovative ideas, the harder it becomes to ignore or procrastinate. Seeing your ideas in any form can motivate you and your team to become involved in the innovation's development.

Types of innovation you can use at work

Here are some approaches you can try to be innovative at work:

Gradual innovation

Being innovative at work starts with identifying aspects or processes that can be better. Find a challenge, no matter how small, and develop ideas to help overcome it in a way that creates value for you and the company. Gradual innovation is about making continuous improvements to processes or services in your workplace to improve their efficiency, productivity, and value. You can find many opportunities at work where you can implement gradual innovation.

Collaborative innovation

Once you encounter a challenge at work, find other people who are facing similar obstacles, such as your team members or other colleagues. Bring them together to help find solutions to overcome this challenge. Once you have some ideas, select the better ideas and work on refining them. Take your chosen solution to a decision-maker in the company who can help implement it. Innovative solutions may require more work, patience, or a complete reevaluation, but once implemented, it can add value to the organization and help many others.

Related: 9 Smart Ways to Work Effectively With Others

Creative innovation

Creativity drives innovation and creative problem solving is the best way to approach a problem in an imaginative and innovative way. Creative solutions are often the most novel and useful to you or your team. Problem solving as a team gives you a framework to create ideas and implement them into workable solutions. The tools and techniques you use for creative innovation help you organize your team's ideas and manage the complexities that may arise.

How to develop innovation skills

Here are the steps that you can use to develop your innovation skills, helping you become more creative in your personal and professional life:

1. Extend your thinking

There are four stages to being innovative. First, you analyze the challenge, then you create, develop, and execute solutions to overcome it. People have their own preferences when involved in these stages. Some people identify the challenge and some prefer to work on a solution before fully understanding the issue. Bypassing a stage in creative problem solving can affect the ideas and solutions developed by the team. Finish all four steps to create a workable solution. Shape your thought process with every challenge to engage in all the steps of creative problem solving.

Related: 16 Innovative Interview Questions (With Tips and Answers)

2. Be mindful

The creative process requires your emotional investment when working with a team, as innovation requires more than just logical and analytical thinking to navigate. Be mindful of the thoughts and experiences of your team so you can accept feedback and evaluate the steps for solutions. Having emotional intelligence and using intuition throughout the creative process is critical to developing an effective solution.

3. Learn as you go

Innovation is a learning process that often exposes you to situations where you may not have previous experience. Only through experimenting and learning can you improve your innovation skills. When you view innovation as a learning experience, you are mindful of the decisions made, reflect on the result, learn, and adapt from it on your next attempt at innovation. Practising learning through innovation helps you master the skill of creative innovation.

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