Monday, November 16, 2009


Many clients have recently been asking us to assist them in setting strategies for creating a culture of innovation in their organisations. Some feel as though team members and managers are happy to accept the status quo and are not actively and proactively seeking ways to improve systems, processes and products and to lead the organisation forward.
We have so often heard about the need for innovation as the cornerstone of any successful business - and yet unless there is a determination from within the business to create a mindset of innovation, this does not automatically happen.
There are several levels to bringing an organisation forward to become part of a 'creativity and innovation revolution.'
First up obviously is to create an overall strategy and to set an action plan in place from that. Included in that process will be a way of developing innovation competencies such as
  • Having a solution-centred mindset
  • Being able to think laterally
  • Being engaged with the outcomes and vision of the organisation
  • Being prepared to collaborate
There are certainly challenges in simply embedding these competencies - it is not that easy to say to team members who have traditionally waited for the 'boss' to come up with a solution, 'hey guys, you now need to problem solve and guess what, even if your solution does not work out well, there will be no blame.'
Yes, it would be wonderful to have flat organisational structures with amazing 'hotspots' of innovation emerging to deliver great value to the customer. On a practical level, and if you have no influence over the overall culture and organisational objectives, start off by doing small things:

1. Train your team on how to problem solve effectively. Use the process of the Creative Problem Solving Institute and show your team the 6 phase process that enables problems to be identified and resolved on a consensus basis.
2. Learn to re-frame problems without ever saying "NO or YES BUT" to anyone. Re-frame the response to your team member by saying, 'In what way might you resolve that". "In what ways might you find a way around the budget" is going to produce an innovation mindset, rather than - "we tried that last year' Or "No, that won't fit in the budget."
3. Pro-actively encourage lots of ideas - if we don't start with a huge funnel of ideas, you won't be let with many ultimately!

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