If any organisation wants to thrive going forward, innovation should be a way of being, not just something they occasionally do, when they want to try come up with new and innovative ideas. As Bill Damaschke, chief creative officer for DreamWorks says. Each new movie starts out with tiny teams of two people. He believes that is where true innovation comes from. Two people given free rein to be creative and innovative, thereby coming up with new ideas.
Bill says that, as the writer and director need more support; more people are added to the team as they go along. As the teams get bigger, they once again break up into smaller creative units. This keeps people thinking, creative and no one feels like just a cog in the wheel. Everyone feels valued and remains creative. Lines of communication between the various teams, is kept open with regularly weekly “show and tells”, where all the teams get to share and support each other’s creativity.
I believe that the secret to innovation within any organisation is to encourage a culture of creativity, where everyone is made to feel important and their ideas are given a voice during “show and tell” sessions.
Avoid the Lure and comfort of your Brand
Bill Damaschke, also believes that companies should avoid the lure and comfort of their brand, as this can severely restrict and limit any organisations ability to be innovative and creative. He believes that the key to innovative success is to forget about branding altogether.
He believes that the moment you allow yourself to think narrowly about what you do, is the moment you become restricted and lose your ability to innovate. When you allow yourself to be too attached to your brand, you kill any possibility to be really innovative and creative.
I believe that Branding is a crucial part of any business, but take cognisance of what Bill says, he is after all the leader of one of the most creative and innovative organisations around. The secret I believe is to find a positive compromise between building and supporting your brand, yet never allowing this to limit the culture of creativity and innovation within your organisation.
Learn the art of Living in the Now
One of the most important requirements to be innovative and creative, is to be observant. Learn the art of always being present, observe what is going on around you and try to uncover better or new ways of doing things. You can only innovate, if you have open eyes and see opportunities to innovate and create.
Encourage an environment of Innovation
Most people are creative, when encouraged and supported to be so. As a leader, encourage your team to be innovative and creative. The best way to do this is to project an attitude of creativity and innovation yourself. As you know people always mirror what they see. When they observe that an atmosphere of innovation, permeates through the organisation and they experience it as a way of being, within the organisation, you will be amazed at how innovative and creative people will become.
Self – Belief
Encourage people to believe in their ability to be creative, by showing support and understanding for any innovative ideas they may have. When it comes to creativity, nothing will support people to be creative, more than their own self-belief in their ability to come up with great new ideas. Society has forced people to comply with rules for so long, that most people doubt their ability to be creative. When you encourage, support and reward creativity, you create and environment, which is conducive to innovation. As your team experiences this new supportive environment; creativity will gradually become a way of being, within your organisation.
If you are really serious about creating a culture of innovation within your organisation, then it is crucial that you support key people, with creative mentors to help them to unlock their creativity. These mentors can come from within your organisation or they can be external people you hire to support your team.
Encourage your teams to study creativity. The more books they can read around creativity, innovation or the use of creativity models, the better equipped they will be to become creative. As they discover new ideas or strategies, which will help them with their creativity, encourage them to have the courage to try them. Support your team to incorporate the study and use of creativity into their daily routine. Encourage your team members to study the history of your business, markets and environment and to search for better or more innovative ways of doing things.
Action Idea: Here are a few examples of books on creativity I recommend that you get your team to read.
· Serious Creativity – Edward De Bono
· Lateral Thinking – Edward De Bono
· Cracking Creativity – Michael Michalko
· Thinkettoys – Michael Michalko
· Six Thinking Hats Eaward De Bono
There are a number of excellent models in the books, which I have described above. You can encourage your team to use any of the models described in the books above. All of them work really well. As I am in the business of sales, I like the SCAMPER model, as I feel it works really well for sales people. Based on your industry and requirements, you may find a more appropriate model for your industry.
Creativity and innovation is most certainly not an exact science. To become successful and to consistently flex your creativity muscle, you must accept that not every idea is going to work out quite the way you wanted it to. You must make your team feel safe to innovate. Never punish people for any failures, as this will put a huge damper on any creative concepts and ideas, any other team members may have. You must encourage team members to put their necks out and risk failure. As Tom Watson, President of IBM said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate”.
Support all creative ideas in action
To really instil an environment of creativity within your organisation, you must encourage and support all creative ideas. As your team experiences positive support for creativity and innovation, they will gradually incorporate it into the unwritten corporate code or the way they see things within the organisation. As you know it is never the way the leadership sees things, but rather the way the team experiences things within the organisation, which adds up into the corporate culture.
Creative and innovative organisations are the ones, which are flourishing and prospering in these times of massive change. If you want your organisation not to only survive, but to thrive going into the next 10 years, it is crucial that you start the process of developing and encouraging a culture of innovation and creativity within your business. Innovation is no longer a nice to have. It has become a crucial cog in the wheel of every business.