3.7 Creative Facilitation
THE FAST FACILITATOR Creative Facilitation 163
There is no doubt that we can all be creative (or at
least more creative than we are used to being). But
just how do we develop creativity? As facilitators,
how can we foster creativity in our work with groups
and teams?
There are, of course, a whole host of different
approaches to boost creativity, but perhaps the most
important attribute is to be open to new ideas. We
may think that we are really seeing things as they
are but, in truth, our past experience is a colored
filter through which we constantly judge people
and events. For example, how long does it take us to
alter our opinion of someone if, on first meeting
them, they make a bad impression? The answer
depends on many factors, but the point here is
that we limit ourselves and others when we have a
fixed point of view. So creative thinking is about
fostering openness. We can start to develop creative
perception by engaging in activities that have
been shown to promote playfulness, humor, and
surprise.
Creative play. One of the keys to creativity is to
be able to loosen up our thinking and our
framework of accepted behavior. Ask yourself
how and when you play. Give yourself and
group members permission to be silly with ideas
and people, and notice how unrestricted or free
you feel. Often it is the child within us who
knows best how to play, and it is the child who
knows how to look at things with a fresh mind.
Time for humor. Often an outcome or an ingredi-
ent of play, humor seems to have no place in
many professions. Yet when it comes to creativ-
ity, humor is essential. It encourages the absurd,
the outlandish, and the irreverent, and helps us
look at people and events in unlikely ways.
The artistic. Creativity does not have to be an
activity solely reserved for artists. However, our
creative nature tends to get stifled at work. The
challenge therefore is to find ways to unlock
creative potential in whatever form that might
take. Inviting groups to represent their thoughts
and feelings through drama or art is a way
of tapping into the less-used right side of the
brain—the seat of creativity.
When we learn to work with the creative process,
what we are really doing is learning to trust the
creativity that is already within us. It is a simple
enough idea, but it has immense implications. It
means that we are already our greatest resource. We
do not have to wait for someone else to stimulate
us. We just have to get to know ourselves and the
way we respond to the creative process.
Now this belief in “creativity for all” may be
heartening, but those who are intent on displaying
more creativity at work probably need to be
reminded that they will face obstacles along the way.
One such obstacle is the judgment that we often
make about our own ideas; our inner critic can kill
creativity before it starts to blossom. And if this isn’t
bad enough, other people can be hard to impress,
too. For example, how many times have you seen
group members propose innovative or unusual
ideas, only to be put down by cynical managers?
People who are working with creativity need to
feel free to do things differently and to take
risks. This does not mean that new ideas will escape
being tested rigorously, but for creativity to flourish,
you need an environment that is nonjudgmental
and safe.
As facilitators, it is important to know how to
draw out the creativity of the group when it is
164 THE FAST FACILITATOR Creative Facilitation
appropriate. Listening to your intuitive self will
serve you and the group as a useful guide in
deciding when and how to make those
interventions. The skill is in being open yourself,
and having the courage to try something new and
different without being too attached to the
outcome. When you adopt this attitude, the
potential for feeling ridiculed, judged, or shamed as
a result of your suggestion in the face of potential
skepticism will be minimized. Try out ideas on
friends first. Get support from allies who already
work creatively in groups. Start with low ambitions
and achievable goals, and build up to more risky
strategies for creative processes.
Remember that we can all be greater than we
allow ourselves to be, if only we are given the
opportunity, and are nurtured and encouraged.

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