painting as a team building activity to boost creative thinking

Are you sitting at home telling yourself that you don’t have a creative bone in your body? You’re not alone. Only 10% of adults identify as create. But 96% of four year olds identify as creative. As children, we use creativity to figure out how the world works. We learn how to paint, draw, play music, and build things, all the while developing creative-thinking skills. 

Creative thinking skills are the key to problem solving in all aspects of life, including your business life. This is why team building activities for creative thinking are so important. Improving your creative thinking, and your team’s creative thinking will make you better problem solvers. It will lead to more innovation and productive risk taking.

The Value of Team Building for Creative Thinking

Being creative isn’t just about making art or writing a song, although participating in a painting workshop or a songwriting program could be a helpful activity for your team. Creativity lives every time you solve a problem.

To solve a problem, you need to change something. To change something you need new ideas. And to find ideas you may think you need creative inspiration. But you don’t. As a life long songwriter, I can tell you that if I waited for inspiration to begin my work, I would’ve been out of work a long time ago. When I’m uninspired I still go to work and know that if I stay with it long enough, the inspiration will eventually come. 

Enter the need for team building activities for creative thinking. There are programs out there that can help your team appreciate their inherent creativity and learn how to harness that power to innovate and solve problems. 

That Elusive Magic – A Step By Step Process

When you break it down, a big part of thinking creatively is brainstorming to the point of exhausting every option you can possibly think of. Solving a problem in my business or my songwriting a song has a lot of similarities. I start by bringing in lots of ideas. I don’t judge these ideas, I just keep adding them to the conversation. We want to gather lots of information and perspectives before we start to judge the quality of our ideas or information. As possible solutions emerge, or possible song lyrics, it becomes more obvious to see which ideas stay relevant and fit where you’re going. 

Songwriters, painters, writers and other creatives use similar approaches in which we play with ideas, add and add and add before we then begin to subtract as we move toward a solution to our problem. That solution could be a finished song, or a new client intake form if you’re on a sales team. While a song and a client intake form may seem worlds apart, they can both share a similar way of creating them.

All of this assumes you’re thinking about creativity as an integral part of problem solving. And that’s where team building for creative thinking can play an important part in your business strategy. 

5 Team Programs for Creative Thinking

Here are a few of my favorite team programs to improve creative problem solving. When led by a facilitator who can create context for you, there’s opportunity to gain confidence in your team’s creative abilities and to better appreciate your power to ideate, brainstorm, kick things around and ultimately be more innovative. 

1) Songwriting Team Building

Songwriting is problem solving. You start with an empty page and ultimately turn that into a song lyric and then a finished song. Through a series of questions you’ll develop song titles, themes and ultimately tell your story through song. This step by step process mirrors what you need to do in your business life when you’re tackling a new project or trying to improve an existing process. 

The program my company runs is team building through song. So yes, I’m a bit biased! But we’ve proven we can successfully bring creative thinking to teams in a super fun, highly engaging process. 

2) Improv Programs

Improv is another great way to get your team working together in a creative fashion. Put them to the test by having them build upon a story from a random situation. It’s challenging at first, but once everyone gets into a rhythm everyone starts to feed off of each other. It’s truly a team effort! 

There are different forms of improv, but all easy to jump into. If you remember these 5 basic rules, you’re smooth sailing. 

  1. Always say “yes, and”.
  2. Don’t ask open ended questions.
  3. Being funny isn’t a necessity. 
  4. It’s a team effort, so work as a team.
  5. Tell a story! 

3) Survivor Games

I’m sure you’ve heard of the reality game show competition Survivor! This team building activity is based on that. You divide up your group into smaller “tribes” and give them challenges to face.

Each challenge requires people to work together. You’ll be doomed if you don’t collaborate. The tasks can range from ridiculously silly to extremely difficult. Each game is designed to put everyone to the test, giving each individual their chance to shine. 

But most importantly in the context of helping with creative thinking, there’s lots of problem solving and some trial and error to be successful. This type of program is best when you bring in a professional team facilitator. 

4) Blind Drawing 

If you’ve heard of back-to-back drawing, this creative team activity is similar. The object of the game is to attempt to draw only using verbal cues while blindfolded. Seems simple, right? All you need is a flip chart, something to draw with and your teammates. 

To start, you can divide up into smaller teams. Each team chooses one person to be the artist and everyone else turns around to find an object to describe. The key is that the artist can’t see the object, and the teammates can’t see what the artist is drawing until the end. 

Set a time limit and start drawing! After the time is up, see which team communicated their object to the artist in the best way. This program allows you to have fun and to do somewhat silly stuff without knowing how it will turn out. You can apply this to your next brainstorming session at work. Allow your team to try different ideas, to entertain silly ideas and see where it takes you. 

5) Group Story Telling

All you need for the story telling session is a bit of time, a theme, and someone who’s brave enough to go first. Sit around a table or pull chairs into a circle so that no one feels pushed to the front or singled out. Make sure everyone is clear about the theme you’ve decided on. Have one person start the story and give them five minutes. Then have a second person continue the story for five minutes and pass on to someone else.

One of you will need to play the role of facilitator. The facilitator will interject every so often to ask the team if the story needs editing or refining. As this progresses you’ll notice that while not perfect, your story is moving toward a conclusion. This forces you to use creativity, to problem solve and to succeed. Success is defined by a finished story and not necessarily how great it is. This will really tune up your group brainstorming. This is one of my favorite examples of team building for creative thinking, and this one is DIY!

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.