By Lynn Robinson

There will be a lot of naysayers when you learn to trust your gut. “You can’t do it that way.” “It’s never been done.” However, the successful business people of tomorrow will be the ones who do things differently. They’re the ones who thrive on innovation and creativity. They’ll also be the ones who are guided by their intuition.

The word intuition comes from the Latin, intueri, which means “to look within.” You have within you and within your team a rich resource. As Steve Jobs suggested, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary.”

What can you do to boost that business intuition today? Here are eleven ideas.

  1. Make creativity a core value. Make it clear to your staff that intuition, creativity and innovation are important to you and the company. Don’t just pay lip service to the idea. Back it up with action.
  2. Talk about creativity. How do people define it? Why is it important? What tools does your staff need in order to be creative? What do they need from you as a boss, co-worker or leader in order to be creative? What encourages creativity? What discourages it?
  3. Design an inspiring work environment. Ask your team to come up with six ways to make the office more conducive to inspired thinking. This could be as simple as painting the office a new color, having imaginative toys on desks, having a bulletin board filled with creative sayings, or allowing for more personalization of individual workstations.
  4. Invest in fun-type training. Employees at Pixar Animation Studios are sent to ballet courses, encouraged to play a musical instrument, trained to juggle. None of it has a direct bearing on people’s ability to do their jobs, but it makes a huge difference in their ability to bring a creative approach to their work. What could your team do? Take language classes during a coffee break? Participate in an improvisation class? Learn to draw?
  5. Set aside a physical space for creativity. Fill it with crayons, colored pens, big sheets of paper and craft supplies. Encourage people to use a percentage of their work time to develop new ideas. Put on some great music to encourage the creative juices! Or provide a sanctuary for people who find that inspiration comes to them in a quiet place. Think of it as an “Intuition-at-Work” room.
  6. Discuss what’s working. Many meetings bog down with their focus on problems and challenges. Make sure you devote part of each gathering to a brief discussion celebrating the successes in your office, your company or on your staff.
  7. Discuss what didn’t work. Often, innovative ideas don’t work for one reason or another. Mistakes happen! Advertising icon Leo Burnett put it this way: “To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is to swear off having ideas.” Rather than ignoring that fact, address it.
  8. Research what others are doing right. Is there another team in your company that is particularly innovative? Talk to them! If you’re a solo entrepreneur, consider talking to others in your field. What do they do that works for them? What are their best practices? Look for ways to brainstorm with other individuals or teams.
  9. Be someone who listens. Creative ideas are often lost when the person in charge doesn’t take the time to listen. Make it a priority to listen carefully, elicit opinions, give feedback and, where appropriate, act on the suggestions.
  10. Have fun! Creative ideas are most easily produced in a lighthearted environment. Start a collection of fun ideas for your company, department or unit. Ask the staff to suggest ideas for bringing more fun to their work. At least once a week try out one of the ideas. Injecting some fun into your day-to-day operations can be just the tonic to rejuvenate your staff’s creativity.
  11. Take frequent breaks. Encourage people to take short breaks, especially when everyone is working on a tight deadline or some other pressure producing reason. A shift in routine can reinvigorate thought processes. Do something relaxing or silly — go for a walk, grab a latte, or try to solve a puzzle to relieve the tension.

Creative people work from the inside out. They first focus within, and look there for their source of wisdom and inspiration. From that wellspring, brilliant new products, ideas, and businesses are manifested and flourish.