How to lure conservative colleagues out of their comfort zone

Someone once said to me “You definitely convinced me of the importance of creative thinking. However, I’m not quite sure how to get some of my more sceptical colleagues on board. They believe creativity is not important in our field.

Some people find it hard to accept that creative thinking can be valuable for them too. They don’t see themselves as creative people and believe that creativity has no role to play in their field.

Luckily, it’s quite easy to get these people to try some creative thinking. Here are three steps you can take to convince even the most stubborn colleague:


Some people are afraid of what they consider a fuzzy term. Creativity in their eyes is good fun for artists, but of no importance to serious business people like them. They’d rather not be bothered (and distracted) by something as elusive as ‘creativity’. They understandably (yet mistakenly) assume that creativity is merely an artistic skill…

Of course, you are NOT talking about artistic creativity. You’re talking about Business Creativity. Not something frivolous, but something essential in any business.

Creativity is the act of combining existing elements (materials, processes, ideas etc.) to create something new. The difference between Business Creativity and artistic creativity lies in the goal for which creative thinking is applied. Business Creativity focusses on added value from a financial point of view, whereas artistic creativity focusses primarily on an emotional impact.

Most people will be reassured and a lot more reasonable once they realise that creative thinking is a skill that can be employed for business purposes. Creativity is hardly mysterious. It’s mostly psychology and it needs structure. Everybody can learn to think creatively and everybody can excel in it, as long as you practise enough. Creative thinking is a sure-fire way of coming up with clever ideas, and that’s something no business can do without.


If explaining the meaning and benefits of Business Creativity doesn’t seem to have the desired effect, it might be necessary to illustrate how the theory works in practice. This will require some action on your part. Try out the various thinking techniques and strategies mentioned on this website. Experiment individually or with others who are willing to give it a shot. As the techniques and strategies are bound to result in clever ideas, you should soon be able to share your successes with the sceptics. While showing them how some creativity has benefited the organisation, don’t forget to explain how these smart ideas came into existence.


Some people are so firmly rooted in their own comfort zone, that they are practically immune to reason. While they are not likely persuaded by arguments or successes of others (who they presumably consider ‘those who are born with the gift of creativity’), you might be able to nudge them into action with a little challenge…

If all else fails, simply ask the sceptics what the biggest challenge is they face at the moment. Now ask them how long they’ve been struggling with this. Days? Weeks? Months?

Well… that’s how long conventional thinking has been failing to deliver results. And counting…! Now, would this desperate colleague be willing to try some thinking techniques for just half an hour? A measly half hour that will undoubtedly lead to surprising ideas? You bet!

I’d love to hear your experiences with convincing doubters to try some structured creativity. Do you know any other ways of getting conservative colleagues to embrace creative thinking? Please let me know in the comment box below.

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Flickr Creative Commons Image via Kevin McShane.

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