Managing Creativity For Software Development Teams. Part 1

5. The art of team creativity management is balancing strong points of the creativity processes while avoiding the downsides:

  • encouraging (and requiring) deep non-formal understanding of both of the problem area and all the software development technologies by all the team members; that provides the basis for the problems and gaps detection at any team level;
  • allocating enough time in the development iterations for the problems elaboration, tests, trials and failed attempts that will not produce any tangible results by themselves but are the basis for finding creative solutions;
  • creating the supporting, unperturbed, motivating working environment and atmosphere for the team, that includes the room conditions, supporting services and facilities, convenient development hardware and software, good relations within the team, adequate incentive payments, clear and fair company policies, confidence etc. Сreative solutions require prolonged concentrated immersion into the problem, therefore any disturbing events distract the team members and break the creativity process;
  • encouraging clear communication between the team members, management, customers etc.; defining the communication rules and protocols that are both unobtrusive and help delivering the information precisely to the interested parties; encouraging the communication skills improvement; facilitating the early notifications of the problems, impediments, mistakes etc. (reward both the bad and good news);
  • establishing a good team structure, borders and responsibilities, that both grants the team members’ confidence and allows for enforcing important development priorities and directions while retaining enough room for the personal creativity.

6. Creativity is an inherent trait of every healthy, developed, untroubled person. The software developers usually are people with skills most suitable for producing creative solutions. The major creativity management rule is simply “do not block creativity”. That means:

  • ensuring confidence, providing reliable and well-structured environment;
  • encouraging good relations and clear communications between the team members;
  • motivating team members to go above formal instructions execution, making the project goals the personal, emotionally involving ones, turning the project success into feeling of personal achievement and recognition.

Mature creativity is one of the key features that differs a good software development team from a common one. Falling into any extremity from that golden mean produces either a pack of ordinary coders that implement anything that formally matches the requirements, not providing real value, or a wildly artistic company so excited by newest technologies and innovative designs that the business requirements and user experience are considered insignificant to them.

People don’t have to work for a big company to introduce the creativity support – the rules outlined above are simple and fitting into a team of any size. Actually, the most creative startups are quite small, and the tricky part is to do not lose those creativity spirit principles when the company grows and therefore must establish a more formal structure and policies.

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