Tapping team creativity and innovation is a dream

There is an innovation gap in our midst. While many companies know that innovation is important to success, few know how to make it happen.

Many corporations have tried suggestion schemes and reward systems but these rational methods have not been very effective in fostering an innovation culture.

The key lies in winning over employees emotionally. Let me share with you a DREAM method to tap team creativity.


Diversify your talent mix when you form teams for innovative solution finding.

Group content experts with nonexperts - it could offer new perspectives about an issue.

Too often, content experts may be too set in their ways and reject intriguing ideas as impractical. Albert Einstein once said: “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”

Hence, a ‘naïve’ awareness may trigger a new idea, just as Polaroid was conceived after the founder’s daughter dreamed aloud: ‘Daddy, I wish I could see my pictures instantly’.


Respect all ideas or wishes during divergent thinking sessions. Each image is an ingredient for the innovation cake. An idea, however seemingly absurd, could trigger off other associations in someone else’s mind. Instead of criticising a wish to ‘borrow time from eternity to be more efficient’, allow the image of eternity to conjure analogies.

Other team members may think of the subconscious mind, the internet, the experience bank and so on.

Looking literally at ‘absurd’ ideas is the surest way to destroy the contributor’s self-esteem or lead to contribution of only ‘safe’ ideas.


Energise the team. Having fun during solution finding sessions, tends to relax people more, allowing creative juices to flow readily.

Fun is an emotional element, which in turn enables team members to express their wild or bold wishes. When a team is too serious, it only leads to safe and non-breakthrough ideas. Before you hold your next team creativity session, plan some activities to relax the members and make them laugh.


Air all thoughts. Each one that is censored in the mind does not get to be heard.

No one can associate or connect further images from an unexpressed thought.

The innovations of today first started as a thought in someone’s mind – bloodless surgery, cloning, surrogate pregnancy, internet banking, etc. Encouraging airtime for all thoughts, makes team members feel that every bit of their thinking is useful.

If you condemn wishes as ridiculous without exploring their possibilities, it would only discourage team members from speaking up.


Manage possible solutions that are important, even though they may not be urgent. The temptation is to spend time on shortterm important/urgent matters, such as resolving crisis after crisis.

The danger is also in working on feasible ideas and rejecting what seems to be unfeasible. Just think, aircraft flying was initially an unfeasible-intriguing wish.

Long-term visions and strategies need to be seeded, fertilised and monitored before their fruits can be harvested in the future.

This DREAM culture has many benefits.

Noncontent experts will realise they can offer ideas. When ideas are respected, members will be encouraged to offer more.

When there is fun, the team is more energised and bonds more naturally. When airtime is encouraged, every expression could be a gem in the making.

When you manage shorterm and long-term possible solutions, it shows that there is hope for intriguing-not-yet-feasible ideas.

When you cultivate a DREAM culture for team creativity sessions, each journey would uncover intriguing, unexpected ideas that can lead to successful innovations.

* Peter Ling is a freelance trainer, consultant and writer in team creativity. He can be contacted on 9414 1757 or

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