Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are organisations afraid of innovation?

So much talk around about how important it is to be innovative. How will organisations progress or keep up with the rapid pace of change if there is not a culture of innovation? In the IBM Global CEO survey, innovation emerges as a critical skill that leaders need to display - see
So - it seems as though innovation should be top of mind when it comes to establishing a training program for an organisation. You would think that there would be a substantial focus on providing people with the right tools and techniques to be more creative, to use the full extent of their creativity so that they do in fact deliver new ideas that can be readily implemented.
Reality seems to dictate otherwise! Very little budget appears to be allocated to learning programs, formal and informal workshops or any experiences that lead to thinking in a more creative way. And creativity is a skill that can be learnt - we are not born with some mysterious powers that enable us to think in way that leads to creative outputs.
Are we afraid of creating this climate of innovation because of what could happen and we in fact prefer to stick to the same old way of doing things? Are we afraid of what might emerge when people come up with better ways of doing things and we might not have the will or the budget to take these ideas forward? Are we determined to buck the innovation trend and remain happily ensconced in the 20th Century?
Help! I just cannot figure it out.
There is just so much disruption happening in so many industries - no one can afford to be complacent.
Ideal world would be for all team members to be able to follow a process of generating ideas in a structured way so that there are bucket loads of ideas from which practical, useful and amazing actions emerge that make a real difference to the organisation. When it comes to allocating budget, creative thinking techniques should not be placed as a low priority item that we can get to at some distant point in time. I would hope that these tools would be part and parcel of any training delivery program or process.
Enough with simply talking about innovation - take practical steps to make it happen by providing the entire company with the ability to creatively problem solve:
1. Start off meetings in unusual ways to convey the message that all can contribute and no ideas will be blocked. Gather an endless supply of ways of initiating meetings.
2. Be trained as a facilitator who knows the difference between divergence and convergence - follow the YES AND principle and make others in the room look good. Watch how quickly people build on other people's ideas and what emerges from the conversations when 100% of the people in the room are included.
3. Be formally trained as a creative problem solving facilitator so that you can apply the principles of this world renowned process in your own meetings. Ideate more strongly and then select the best ideas by moving towards consensus in a logical way. See how many new ideas emerge that would otherwise have been discarded too quickly - and how much easier it is when there is buy-in to the new way of doing things.
4. Form teams that include a range of participants and leaders with different styles of creative thinking. Do you have people on the team who are clarifiers, idea generators, developers, and implementers? Do you know what the preferred styles are in terms of creativity and have you identified these styles in the team? Undertake a survey to determine who is who in the team - and watch the huge difference this makes.
5. Emphasise the importance of innovation to your learning and development and HR teams - they might not see training in this area as being a top priority agenda item. And it is so easy to integrate innovation techniques in to just about any learning experience whether on-line or face to face.
The best news of all - none of this comes with a huge price tag. Small investment that leads to a huge return. But only if you are not afraid of innovation....

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