How to prompt creativity in people around you

When you work with other people – students, co‒workers, mentors, and so on – you may encounter this comment more than once: “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.”

It’s comforting to do what’s always been done, to do the same type of work the exact same way time and time again.

Maybe the same methods that have been done before will work, again, but as a creative creature you have to ask yourself what might you be missing out on by doing the same thing over and over again? Even if the results are always good, how do you know that they can’t be even better?

The hard part isn’t convincing yourself. You’re smart and you see the value of creative exploration, of trying new things to see if you can’t discover something new or learn how to do something faster or with more yielding returns.

That’s not the hard part. The hardest part of breaking away from the “it’s how we’ve always done it” mentality is convincing those you work with to try new things as well.

You can beg and argue, but that won’t get you anywhere. You can offer incentives like prizes or money, but those only bring temporary happiness and are justifiably only a temporary solution.

So what do you do? If you want to promote creativity in those around you?

Have them ask critical questions.

Invite them to answer the questions: “What’s the worst that could happen if we tried something new?”

There are a lot of other questions you can have those you work with ask too, in order to promote creative thinking and potentially push innovation in any type of work you do. Questions like: “What if we tried something completely different, just this time?” Or “How do we know that trying something new won’t work? How can we be absolutely certain?”

It’s through questions that you can prompt those around you to think creatively and pursue alternative methods of working or solving problems.

Prompt creativity in somebody you work with today. Invite them to answer questions related to their processes, and sit around long enough to hear their answers.