Creativity in planning has not been discussed as it should be, since it has been disregarded for so long. Planning itself is a technical process of making strategies and methods for something (a goal). It can be used in many spheres of work, whenever you have a goal and you need to plan how to reach it.
Planning is usually used in
- Agile environments
- Food services
…and many more areas of work. When we think about it, there is hardly any job that you can think of where one does not need a good plan. When you plan something, you need to set an objective and determine the process and steps needed to realize that objective.
Since it has been seen as a strategic, technical process, not many have realized how important creativity in planning really is.
Luckily, today we have apps like Easynote that can take care of the technical part of the process.
What is creativity?
Creativity can be described in many ways. Mostly, it is seen as using imagination and new ideas in order to create something.
Almost every job needs creativity. In today’s world, being unique in your business without a creative side is almost impossible. There are many creative competitors who may do the job better than you simply because they used creativity in their approach to customers, products, or employees.
There are many sources of creativity. For example, if you work in teaching, your source of creativity might be from pedagogy and psychology methodologies. If you are an artist, inspiration or creativity might come from your life.
If you are a project manager, your creativity might come from the motivation to reach your goal.
But, in order to be creative, most people need freedom and no restraints for their thinking. How can this be done when you need to develop a (project) plan which is full of rules that dictate how something can be done?
Creativity in Project Planning
As we already mentioned, project planning and creativity do not seem to have a lot in common. These two spheres are almost opposite of each other. But when we look at it more closely, we may come to a completely different conclusion.
A role of a Project Manager
A good project manager needs to:
- And close projects
As a project manager, you need to have a clear overview of how your plan is progressing, see if everyone does their task, manage and hold meetings and keep track of everything else related to the project. You will need to make a project success your priority and motivate your team to work together towards it.
This is where the creativity in planning steps in.
How can Project Managers use creativity?
When developing a project plan, there is a set of rules that you need to follow. However, this is not where your job ends. As we already mentioned, meetings, collaboration, and communication will be a big part of your work. These three areas are perfect to use your creativity in.
There is a great window of opportunity to use your creativity during meetings. When you meet your coworkers and start discussions, it is important to encourage their ideas and listen to them. There is no need to stay formal all the time and require only professional opinions. You should see it as a great innovative opportunity when you work with people with different personalities and approaches.
These people can motivate each other and provide new insights.
Also, the way you organize your meetings can be a chance to express your creativity. Why not go to a coffee shop and talk to your team members? This relaxed environment might let your team members relax and express their ideas more freely, especially if you are working with a small team.
Your creativity can also be used for meetings and team-building activities that will motivate your team to work as a whole, towards a common goal. If you want to read more about motivating your team, you can read it HERE.
Collaborative work can make a lot of progress for the business. Different people with different skills can contribute to the creativity of the process and feel more motivated. You can use your creativity as a project manager to mix and match those who can work together more effectively and keep apart those employees who cannot.
Of course, this is ideal when done in big teams and when you have the freedom to do so. There is no need to keep teams or employees who have different opinions on the same team since this can waste time on unnecessary conflicts.
It is very important to communicate with your team members. If you are a project manager, you need to learn how to express your opinion and respect others. This can be quite challenging, so learning how to communicate effectively is crucial.
Creativity in communication is very useful for both conflicts and encouragement. When there are conflicts in opinion, try to develop we are in this together attitude and try not to take sides. When encouraging your team members, you can try and find a creative way of doing it. This can be done by giving small/encouraging ‘awards’ to your teams who achieved certain goals, etc.
Why creative thinking is important in strategic planning
Creative thinking opens a lot of potential for your company. When you have a creative approach, you might open up new opportunities and ideas for your project plan that you didn’t think were possible.
Creative thinking is important in strategic planning because it can:
- Find a way to resolve issues quickly
When you question the approaches you have and use creative thinking, it can basically save your project from failure. You will be able to resolve issues quickly and more effectively when your team can look outside the box. This will save a lot of time on worrying about issues that arise, and give you more time to do other important tasks.
When you are prepared and use creative thinking to solve problems, they do not become only problems, but valuable lessons too.
- Help you reduce risks
Risks can bring many disadvantages to your project plan. To reduce risks you need to engage your creative thinking. Teams are the most creative when they are in a stressful situation. They need to find solutions to problems as fast as they can. However, this is not an ideal situation because you can lose a lot of clients if you are creative only when stressed.
It is much better to show your creative side in the beginning and plan for potential risks. That way you will be prepared for everything that might go wrong.
- Create more effective project plans
When your project plan is created in a creative way, you will see many benefits of it. In the next part of the article, we will show you a few steps that will help your project plan become more creative.
Creative project plan
There are several steps you can take in order to have a more creative project plan.
- Unique approaches
You should look into new methodologies and new approaches that you can use for your project plan. Creativity in planning projects comes from trying new things and seeing which ones work. Do not be afraid to experiment, but make sure it does not affect your overall goal.
Creative brainstorming meetings should be a must for your company if you want your team to be more creative. You should listen to every idea that sounds reasonable and see its potential. You never know which one of these can become the next way you approach your project planning.
When your employees see a visual representation of everything, it is much easier to see how you can progress and which steps are the most crucial. A good idea is to use a storyboard or a prototype of your final product as a goal they should keep in mind.
As mentioned before, you should see flexibility as one of the most important segments of your creative plan because it encourages new ideas, changes to schedules, and other options that might rise from new methodologies. Flexibility is always a good feature to have because it can prepare your team for sudden changes, positive or negative.
Every project manager should encourage collaborative work because it can bring creativity and more ideas for your project plan. Creativity in planning usually comes from more people thinking about the same thing from different angles.
How to encourage creative thinking in strategic planning
There are several ways you can encourage creative thinking in strategic planning. One of the best ways is, as we already mentioned before, a creative meeting.
During a creative meeting, your job is to listen to your team members and encourage them to speak up.
Also, you should use the following strategies to help with creative thinking:
- Do not think that you aren’t creative- everyone is creative in their own way, we just need to feel encouraged. Try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what they would like to see.
- You do not have to be logical all the time- creativity comes from different spheres of your mind and the logical one isn’t always the best source of it. Try to relax and awaken your artistic side.
- Be silly- there is always something creative to be found when you are relaxed and do not take everything seriously. This can allow you to turn off your project manager-oriented brain and let the ideas flow. They do not have to be perfect, but they can give you some inspiration on which way to go.
- There is always an idea behind the corner- if you struggle with creativity, do not stress. Sometimes creative ideas do not come right away but they can come to you when you least expect them. Do not think you will ever figure it out if you cannot figure it out right away.
These are just some of the ideas you can use to be a better project manager and to use your creativity in planning.
You cannot be creative unless the technical side of your project is perfectly organized. Apps like Easynote can help you organize everything much easier.
How can Easynote help your planning and creativity?
Easynote is a time and project management tool that can help you organize your tasks, projects and plans- all in one place. This 5-in-1 tool is favored by project managers because it easily integrates other apps that you need to use daily, such as Google Meets, Calendars, etc.
It is very handy when it comes to creative planning since it offers a meeting minutes feature where you can write down all the brainstorming ideas that your coworkers suggest and use them for future meetings.
There are many other features that you can use for your project management. There are many templates, timelines and document management features that let you finish all the important things with just one app.
When you actively use an app like Easynote, it leaves you with more room for creativity and quality project plans.
Let your creative side flow through your project plan and try to have as much fun as you can. Try to remember that collaboration and communication are the key parts of your creative process. Without them, you cannot be focused on creativity and innovative ways to create any project plan.