Innovation in business is a survival trait in today’s world. Our world is changing on a scale that has never been seen before. And businesses have to keep up or they will be swept aside. Whether it’s new communications media, new markets or new technology, your business is under attack from constant change. Innovation is critical. And promoting innovative thinking is a critical success factor.
After all, innovative thinking is a pretty nebulous concept to try to encourage. But it is possible to promote creativity within your business or organization. It is possible to promote innovation if you understand the parts that turn creativity into innovation.
In this article, I’m going to share five tips for promoting innovative thinking in your business. They are:
1. Reward Try
2. Look Outside
3. Don’t question, Test
4. Build for fun not fear!
5. Understand the 3 Organizational Structures
Periodically, you’ll hear the tip “Reward Failure” given as an innovative tip. It’s probably the most popular one in fact. But the truth is you don’t want to encourage failure. Failure is an inevitable result. A negative one at that. What you want to encourage is trying new ideas and new business models. That means you need to accept failure. But you want to encourage the best effort possible.
It’s been said in many ways, that innovation always comes from outside. Einstein for example said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Using the same thinking leads to at best improvement. True innovation comes from using a fresh set of eyes on an old problem. It comes from applying a simple solution from one industry on another industry’s problems. The old adage of “If it wasn’t invented here, it’s no good” must be removed from your organization’s lexicon.
One of the greatest enemies of creativity is time. Most organizations like to see some sort of preliminary analysis before money is spent. Unfortunately, this analysis takes time. Making the situation worse is the fact that innovation often involves the unknown. Rather than spend a great deal of time in analysis of ideas, try testing them in a small situation. Not only will you gather the information you need for analysis but also you’ll learn valuable lessons if you decide to proceed.
One of the fastest ways to discourage innovative thinking is to build an environment of fear. Failure is inevitable in a culture of innovation and if people learn to fear failure then they will quickly learn not to innovate. On the other hand, people who are having fun are fully engaged. Their minds are active and they will almost inevitably approach problems creatively.
Innovation is the product of creativity and implementation. Most tips for promoting innovative thinking concentrate on the creativity. However, you also need to focus on implanting that creative idea. There are three parts to any well-functioning business. At the one end of the spectrum is the day-to-day operation. Its focus is on doing the same thing over and over. Change is the enemy of efficiency. At the other end is strategy. Its focus is on identifying change and trends that will affect the business. In essence, it is the creativity in innovation. However, to change the operations appropriately — in other words, implement innovation — requires a specialized set of management skills. These skills are called project management. Your organization must have someone who is focused on gaining ideas — from outside the organization, from within the internal hierarchy and from outside the normal structure. And it must have a group of managers who have the skills to bring change to your organization.