Creating a Template for Creativity

Your team spent two days sequestered in a small conference room trying to come to an agreement on next year’s strategy, and in the process had come up with several ideas that looked very promising, but which required further research and alignment with both corporate and division goals.¬†While everyone took down their own notes, the overview of the shared strategy was left on the whiteboard, to be ratified this morning.

And now it was all gone, the whiteboard wiped down overnight.

We’ve all experienced this very common scenario within the workplace with shared meeting rooms and highly-trafficked common spaces. The strategy could be reconstructed from individual notes, but this is yet another delay for the team — and delays definitely have a direct impact on the creative energy of the team. Context can be lost, tactical details forgotten, and the enthusiasm from the team is impacted each time you are forced to start over.

Innovation should be an unfettered process.

Beyond the above team scenario, we often “erase the whiteboard” of our own ideas, and “self-edit” our own work. We are our own biggest critics, and we often filter our own ideas before sharing them with team members. However, with the right tools and proper facilitation, team-based idea creation (“ideation”) can be a highly rewarding experience, and greatly benefit your organization. Similarly, some of these same “templates” for ideation can benefit individuals, as well.

At the core of the ideation process is a map of the problem space and proposed solutions, offered up without criticism. By allowing team members to share thoughts and ideas first, others will be inspired to build on those ideas, provide supporting ideas or artefacts that may not otherwise be surfaced, and generate collective solutions that would not otherwise find their way to the light if not for the team effort.

Creating a “shared vision” generates exponential innovation.

A recent study of elementary school children showed that, over time, enthusiasm for creative pursuits, such as becoming an artist, declined as the children became older because pursuit of art was seen as not “normal” — and they wanted to be accepted by the majority.

Innovation requires an environment where people can think outside of the box, where they are encouraged to share their ideas, or add to the ideas of others. Most organizations are more structured, and even strategic planning can be a defined and orderly process which may not inspire people to be open and share their ideas. Having a shared vision, and allowing people to add to that vision over time, can help unlock creativity and innovation.

Building templates for documenting organizational creativity.

Innovation requires the right organizational atmosphere in which to develop. By providing a centralized structure for sharing and correlating ideas, organizations can:

  • make it easy for team members to generate and iterate on their own ideas, and the ideas and inputs of others
  • empower employees to share their knowledge and ideas rather than keep them hidden
  • help teams to identify patterns within the ideation process, and leverage the collective experiences of the group to strengthen those ideas

It’s not as simple as the deployment of a technology. Microsoft Teams is an excellent platform for the co-creating and sharing of content, but honestly, you could capture notes in text files and upload to a shared FTP server and accomplish your goals. The idea is to initiate the activity, and let your organizational culture determine how the tools and participation levels.

Inspiration is an iterative process.

The first idea is rarely the right idea. More often than not, innovation comes through an iterative process of idea generation, review and feedback, and refinement. Organizational innovation requires a shared understanding, and the ability for ideas to be expanded and re-worked, and for direction to change.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.

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  1. October 2, 2021

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