Innovation… not just thinking outside the box, but nurturing what’s inside the box
by DC Editor
In this day and age, we find more and more companies believing that innovation is the heart to their success, a means of growing bigger and better. While some companies try to be more innovative, they just don’t seem to be living up to this vision…why is that? Perhaps it has something to do with their innovative climate?
If you think about innovation, in some instances innovation does come in a flash, but for the most part it’s indeed a purposeful search for opportunities. A search for opportunities with people with a certain amount of knowledge, ingenuity and focus, who understand their clients needs. But for these people to search for opportunities they need to be in an environment that unleashes this creativity. This goes beyond having a suggestion box or brainstorming meeting or an occasional survey. It actually requires one to look deeper into their talent management.
Here are 5 factors which could be impacting the creative performance in your organization. These are potential areas you need to work on to create the innovative climate you’re searching for to be more innovative…
1. Job design
Individuals need to be challenged within their job in order to be creative! We’re not looking at the word ‘challenged’ from the perspective of overwhelming but rather from the perspective of a job that excites employees and one that they find interesting. Look at your employees in your organization, can you say that all your employees are challenged in their jobs? If there are any individuals doing unnecessary work or who have been doing the same job for years with no change, it might be necessary to look at the job design. As chances are, the people fulfilling these jobs do not have the internal motivation to be creative (not to mention, likely not being committed and emotionally involved in their work anyway).
2. Setting innovative goals
Leaders need to provide a clear, compelling and aspirational innovative mission that innovators can understand and which challenges them to work towards. Do you have innovation goals? Have you communicated these goals to staff? If you have answered no to either of these questions, this might be a good place to start to ensure innovation is regarded as the effort to create purposeful, focused change in your organization. After all, people come up with ideas all the time… your employees and you need to know which ones the organization might use, otherwise why would they bother?
3. Teamwork and collaboration
When employees perceive a sense of togetherness and feel part of a team, we find members work towards shared goals, including your innovational goals! This sense of togetherness allows people to feel a sense of freedom to not only consider ideas, but also debate ideas that could work in the best interests of the organization. If you had to think of the teamwork and collaboration of employees in your organization, you would say, ‘Of course we have this, we need this in order for them to get the job done anyway’, right? For the most part, that is true! But when thinking of innovation, we want you to explore collaboration and teamwork beyond the departments people work within. It’s important to consider how close your organization is as a whole – that means across departments and layers. The reality is that when diverse people come together from across the organization and can objectively discuss an idea, you’re more likely going to have a team that combines their thinking in useful ways thanks to a combination of talent, ingenuity and knowledge… but this will only be possible without negativity, fear or personal judgment.
People are not going to come up with innovative ideas if they believe the organizational culture is not one for taking risks. Do they see your organization as one that is opposed to making changes or learning from mistakes? If so, employees are not going to give innovative ideas much thought. If you look at the culture of your organization, ensure your leaders clearly communicate through words and actions that errors are to be learned from. Potentially allow those leaders to also present opportunities to learn from and upon which others can be challenged to improve. While leaders need to show tolerance for mistakes and failures, there’s another aspect to the culture which is very important and that is ensuring leaders praise successes and the efforts of the team. This recognition and maybe even reward, will definitely go a long way in motivating your team to continue striving for an innovative idea that will make sense and work for the organization.
We already highlighted that innovation doesn’t just happen. We need to plan for it. That means that we actually need to consider setting aside a percentage of our time to focus on innovation. Considering that you’re expecting employees to block off time in their schedule to focus on innovation, then realistically you need to appreciate that employees need comfort in knowing that the ideas that they are working on are going to be assessed fairly. While coming up with the idea in itself is one aspect, you have to now try them out too. This means creating a project, where you possibly set aside extra funds, allow for people’s time and potentially space to work on the innovational idea with a realistic deadline. If you don’t do this, chances are you could be causing unnecessary stress and burnout, or at least chaos in the normal work day which will not give the idea a chance to develop into something of value to the organization. Many organizations have difficulty generating high quality innovation ideas and/or see them through to implementation. If you look at your resourcing, could this be a factor impacting your chance for success?
In 2015 Dale Carnegie researched the challenges that organizations are experiencing which impact their ability to be innovative. Following the research we have a holistic approach to innovation that will transcend common business challenges both internally and externally. Dale Carnegie can help you take a deep look into your organization. If indeed organizational climate is the issue, we can support you in your quest to be a workplace of choice, one where you have a culture of continuous learning and schedule and location agility, which will ultimately ensure innovation efforts in your organization leads to greater economic growth. [Download the report – Experience Innovation]
Karin Batev, Senior Consultant, People Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-617-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Karin brings a broad spectrum of management consulting experience intended to assist organizations in their quest for improved effectiveness and efficiency, growth, customer representation, brand and innovation. Over the years, Karin’s consulting expertise has primarily focused on organizational design and development, change management, process design and development, cultural transformation, as well as learning and development.
At Dale Carnegie, Karin will continue to consult and focus on organizational effectiveness, but also engage people at every stage of career and life, showing them how to tap into and share the best parts of themselves.
Karin has a Masters in Industrial psychology from the University of Johannesburg South Africa, B.A Human Resource Management.
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