Innovative Thinking: Cultivating a Creative Mindset in the Corporate World

By Deanna deBara | Published May 6, 2024

Fostering more creativity can lead to huge benefits in the corporate world. For example, creativity leads to new ideas—and new ideas lead to innovation, which can help a company carve out a competitive edge in their market. In addition, studies show that creativity can make people happier—and happier people are more productive (according to a recent study from Oxford University, 13 percent more productive), which can help individuals and teams perform at a higher level.

But how, exactly, do you get those benefits? Or, in other words, how can you cultivate a creative mindset in the corporate world—and reap the rewards (like increased innovation, worker satisfaction, and productivity) in the process?

Diversify your calendar

Working on the same tasks day in and day out can lead to boredom, disengagement, and “going through the motions”—basically the opposite of creativity. So, if you want to foster more creativity at work, one of the best things you can do is diversify your calendar and fill it with a wide variety of tasks.

Studies show that working on various tasks throughout the day—and periodically switching between those tasks—can actually “switch on” creative thinking. Why? There are a few reasons. First, task switching both reduces cognitive fixation—or, in other words, the tendency to look at or perceive something in a singular way. It also enhances divergent and convergent thinking, which both support increased creativity. As such, regularly switching between tasks can give you the ability to “zoom out” and think about problems in new, different ways—and come up with creative solutions for said problems.

In order to get the creativity-boosting benefits of task switching, make sure to schedule time for various tasks and projects throughout the day. Give yourself enough time to get work done—but not so much time that you get too caught up in the details and have a hard time “zooming out.” For example, you might schedule one-hour blocks to work on a task—and then move on to something else before coming back to the original task later in the day. This can help you take a more creative approach to your to-do list, support a more creative mindset, and get more done in the process.

Schedule time to tackle creative projects

To cultivate a more creative mindset—both in the corporate world and in life in general—you need to create time and space for it. But when you have a long to-do list and a jam-packed schedule, creativity can easily slip through the cracks in favor of more urgent, “important” tasks.

That’s why, if you want to be more creative at work, you need to actually schedule time for creativity—in the same way you would schedule time for a client meeting, project work, or a one-on-one with a direct report.

Look at your calendar and identify where you can fit in creative work in your schedule. What that looks like will vary depending on your workload and responsibilities; for example, you might be able to schedule 30 minutes each day before lunch to tackle creative tasks and problems—or, if you don’t have time every day, you might identify an hour or two each week where you can set aside time for creativity.

Once you’ve identified the time slots you’ll devote to creativity (this is the important part!), block them off on your calendar. That way, no one (including you!) will schedule a meeting or other obligation during the time you’ve set aside for creativity.

Putting creative time on your calendar is a way to show yourself that cultivating a creative mindset is one of your priorities—and when it pops up on your calendar, it’s a reminder of the commitment you made to yourself to foster more creativity, which can increase the likelihood that you follow through on it.

Try a bad idea brainstorm

Many people think that creativity is the key to better ideas—which, in turn, can lead to corporate innovation. And it is! But sometimes, the process might look a little different—and include more bad ideas—than you’d expect.

A bad idea brainstorm is, as the name suggests, a brainstorming session where you set a timer and come up with as many bad ideas as possible during the time allotted. This practice is based on author and entrepreneur James Altucher's idea machine concept, which suggests brainstorming 10 to 20 ideas every day (either in general or under a specific theme), without actually worrying about the quality of those ideas. In fact, the more bad ideas, the better!

The point of this exercise is that the more you work your “idea muscle,” the more easily you’ll generate ideas. While many of those ideas will be bad (especially at first), they will get better and more creative over time. Eventually, you’ll be a creative “idea machine,” generating new, innovative, and creative ideas and solutions on a consistent basis.

The key to being successful with this exercise? You need to give yourself permission to come up with bad—even terrible—ideas. If you’re concerned about the quality of ideas, you’ll hold back, second-guess yourself, and not be able to break through the wall and discover the more creative thinking that’s on the other side. So have fun with it! Challenge yourself to see how bad of ideas you can come up with—and you’ll be surprised at how quickly and consistently those bad ideas transform into better ones.

Many scientific studies have concluded that dance contributes to our health and well-being in many ways—including to our creativity

Studies show that dance increases cognitive flexibility, or the ability to switch between tasks—which can help promote higher cognitive functioning as we age

A bad idea brainstorm is (as the name suggests) a brainstorming session where you commit to generating as many bad ideas as possible instead of trying to come up with good ideas. 

Removing the pressure to come up with your next great plan, strategy, or idea—and, instead, giving yourself space to come up with any ideas at all, including awful ones—can help spark creativity and, ultimately, lead to better ideas.

Get moving

What you do on your personal time can also make you more (or less) creative at work. So, if you want to cultivate a more creative mindset at work, spend time doing things outside of work that support higher creativity—like exercise.

Exercise can have a huge impact on creativity. And while you can engage in intense exercise if you’d like, you don’t have to work out too hard in order to reap the creative benefits.

For example, one of the best things you can do to increase creativity? Go for a walk. Research has found that going on a walk—particularly if that walk is outside and in nature—can increase creative output by up to 60 percent.

You can also dance your way to more creativity. Studies show that dance increases cognitive flexibility, which can help boost creativity. And the music you listen to while you dance can also help; one study found that listening to “happy music” led to higher creativity when performing a task vs. performing that same task in silence.

So, make it a point to get moving on a regular basis. Walk, dance, hike, run, bike, lift—and watch your creativity increase, both in and out of work, in the process.

Deanna deBara

Deanna deBara is an entrepreneur, speaker, and freelance writer who specializes in business and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, she enjoys hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dog. See more of her work and learn more about her services at