Want innovation? Get creative!
In a world filled with innovative solutions, do you want to become more innovative?
In essence, Innovation is the process of making changes to the current status quo by introducing new products, ideas or ways of working. And to come up with new ideas you need to be creative.
Fostering an environment where your team could be freely creative will help you tap into innovative ideas. Supportive and creative workplaces are hot houses for innovation these days.
So, if you want to make sure your company is at the front of the pack - get creative!
Here are some tips that will boost the innovative ideas in your team.
1. Take ideas seriously
What happens when someone comes to you with a bright idea? Innovative and pioneering ideas might sound odd at first (mainly because they are ahead of their time), but even the ideas that you know will not work in a million years from now should not be ridiculed.
Your team should feel appreciated and secure when they bring share new ideas. If you undermine your team members they will soon stop bringing creative concepts to the table. After all, the people who do the day-to-day work know your business processes and the key pain points better than you do.
They will often have insights into how to do things differently, in a way that you would not probably come up with alone.
2. Get better at brainstorming
Brainstorming is something that happens so frequently in business settings that it tempts us think it is easy. When running a successful brainstorming session, it is both critical and crucial to capture the most creative and innovative ideas – a good session will give you dozens of suggestions to explore, but an unsuccessful session can leave the participants feeling flat and demotivated.
There are plenty of guides to help you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions but in summary:
- Learn as much as you can about group dynamics;
- Use structured techniques for idea generation;
- Capture the output in flexible brainstorming software or on large flipchart paper;
- Follow up afterwards and use the results.
This last point is of crucial importance – if you do not tell people what has happened to their ideas, they will stop taking the brainstorming sessions seriously.
3. Communicate informally
You will get suggestions for new ways of working during formal team meetings (if you ask for them) but many ideas start as a quick conversation in an informal setting.
Try to create opportunities for your team to chat outside of the formal meeting structures. That could be in the first 10 minutes of a team meeting over a cup of tea or in a social setting such as lunch out.
The more relaxed your team feels, the more secure they will feel about putting forward ideas that might seem outlandish. They will feel less judged in an informal setting and more confident about making suggestions about how things could be improved.
4. Start small
Big innovative ideas often start off as small tweaks on the way to work today.
A suggestion for changing one step in a customer-facing process that can soon spiral into a complete revision of the entire workflow if it is done right.
Other people will see the potential in the idea and bring their own ideas about how to expand and enhance the original suggestion. The trick is not to dismiss small ideas as ‘something not innovative enough’. Start small and you will see that big changes will follow.
You do not need a Director of Innovation to be an innovative company. It just means supporting a continuous process of improvement and being open to new approaches and ideas. You can do that at any level of the organization, from small teams to large departments.
All you need is the willingness to have an open mind and positive dialogue with your team.
To conclude, innovative solutions drive every company forward, so think of them as important milestones from which everybody benefits: your company, the society, and most importantly – you, as an innovator of a better future.
About the author
Elizabeth Harrin is the author and award-winning blogger behind A Girl’s Guide To Project Management. Get her suggestions for being more productive at work on her blog.