Creativity in the workplace is not used enough. Employees are used to following instructions, if they have a problem, they call the boss and wait for instructions. When you start the continuous improvement journey, you will empower them to find solutions for their daily issues. The first time you tell them that they will look at you with disbelief, and the next couple of weeks, and months they will wait for your change in opinion.
Creativity and PDCA
Why do they react that way? First, because after years of not-thinking and waiting for others to solve some problems while they know the solutions seem unreal. The second reason is fear of what can happen to them if they messed up. But, by using PDCA and teaching them how to use it, you are going to help them to learn a standard way to solve problems. PDCA is a guide, a standard of the thinking process to solve a problem.
Developing trust in the creative process
By participating along with your team on the problem-solving process using PDCA, they learn and start to trust it. Your reaction when something does not go as planned is critical to the learning process. Most of the time, the first solution is not the right one. The way you react will determine whether they will take risks or not.
If the test fails, be honest, and acknowledge it. On the other hand, highlight the learning piece of it. By doing that, people will start to learn that it is ok to make mistakes. When you react by reflecting on the lessons learned and adjust the plan based on those learnings, they notice it and gain the confidence to do the same. By consistently follow that pattern, you will be developing trust, which is critical for a continuous improvement culture.
PDCA is not only the standard to solve problems, but a way to boost their creativity. It does it by unleashing their ideas in a controlled test environment. Over time, they learn more about how to use the tool. More importantly, how to think without limits, about new and creative ways to solve problems and improve their processes. When that happens, you will be the one in disbelief, asking yourself why you did not start doing this before.