How to turn sceptical colleagues into creative allies

Do you sometimes have the feeling that your colleagues are not creative, and that they are holding back progress? Perhaps you should change the way you phrase your questions… 

A little while ago, I saw a clever little video by Flemish creativity speaker Karl Raats.

In his short video, Raats explains how to put conservative colleagues to work.

It reminded me of a few short articles I wrote in the past. Sceptical colleagues are not just annoying, they can be helpful in realising innovation. You can use their negativity to sharpen your wild ideas. Often their scepticism is merely caused by a misconception of what creativity really is. It’s up to you to change their perception of creativity and to get them in a more constructive mood.

Not if, but how

In his video, Raats talks about a very clever way of getting sceptical colleagues on your side. You might not like the thought of sharing your ideas with conservative colleagues, but you should keep in mind that everyone is creative. You don’t believe you are working in a creative organisation? Just propose a wild idea to your, supposedly uncreative, colleagues… You’ll soon find that it’s breathtakingly easy for them to come up with all sorts of reasons why your idea won’t work. They are creative, but not in a way that helps you. They use all their creativity to keep things as they are.

How to cope with this? Whenever you want to propose an innovative idea to your team, phrase it carefully. Instead of asking “Should we do this?”, ask them “HOW should we do this?”

Never ask colleagues if a new idea should be implemented. Always ask them how they would go about it. Ask each of the team members to name three different ways to implement the new idea.

Asking ‘how’ moves people past the simple yes/no answer and into a much more valuable mindset. By asking a different question, you’ve given them the opportunity to use their creativity in a constructive way.

What can you ask your nay-saying colleagues?


Looking for more ways to make your organisation more creative? Check out these articles:



Don't miss out

Receive our biweekly email with our latest articles on business creativity.

We respect your privacy.
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search

Willekeurige afbeelding - random imagebrainstorm homework