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Different Ways to Promote Creativity in the Workplace

StrategyDriven Innovation Article | Different Ways to Promote Creativity in the WorkplaceWhen it comes to the workplace, people often emphasize traditional themes such as productivity and collaboration. However, there are many other valuable traits that employees can bring to the office and that managers should embrace. One of the most underrated features that you should promote in your workplace is creativity. Creativity can have a multitude of benefits for you and your workers, such as increased output and a higher sense of enthusiasm. Here are some simple but effective ways to foster creativity among your employees.

Give Employees Room to Explore

You’ll never know what your team is capable of if you don’t give them the chance to test their boundaries. To truly let your employees thrive, give them plenty of space to explore new opportunities and ask new questions. Engaging in this form of self-discovery allows your employees to have a sense of freedom while doing their jobs. Always be open to their suggestions and encourage them to propose new ideas. While not every attempt will be successful, each one can give your team a valuable learning experience that has the potential to help them thrive.

Use the Right Tools

The tools that your company utilizes on a day-to-day basis ultimately define its approach to creativity in the workplace. In order to make the most of the tools and technology that your employees use, make sure to confirm that they foster creative thinking in every way. It’s always a good idea to regularly evaluate your company’s technology to ensure that it’s facilitating your employees’ work as much as possible. From updated devices to new workflow automation software, making use of the proper tools can give your team more space to explore their creativity.

Celebrate Diversity

If you’re looking for a way to naturally incorporate creativity into your team, try to pay attention to the employees themselves. Members of diverse teams are much more likely to bring a variety of thoughts, opinions and suggestions to the table. This wide array of ideas can feed the overall creativity in your workplace and increase everyone’s enthusiasm as a result. Whether an employee has a suggestion about a project she’s working on or a proposal regarding the new Miratech software, you never know what kinds of ideas you’ll encounter when you emphasize diversity.

Don’t be hesitant about exploring the creative potential of your team at work. If you embrace this valuable trait, you can watch your employees thrive in a variety of ways.

Your Company Is A Well Of Ideas – Stop Poisoning It

StrategyDriven Innovation Article | Your Company Is A Well Of Ideas – Stop Poisoning It | Innovation For The FatiguedI work with creativity and innovation in companies, and I’m frustrated. There are many reasons for this, with my famous impatience being near the top of the list, but one things stands above the rest. This is the insistence of companies and CEOs that their organizations lack ideas. I hear this over and over again, yet it is never true. Not in their organizations, and not in yours.

The fact of the matter is, I’ve never met an organization that lacks ideas. Not one, and I’ve worked with some of the most backwards bureaucracies in the world, and with innovation in North Korea to boot. Be it a Fortune 50 corporation, or a small, local company, the same holds. They all claim they have a problem with generating enough ideas, and they’re all wrong. They already have all the ideas they could even need, and so do you.

You see, the problem is never idea generation. Ever. I can teach a monkey to run a decent idea generation workshop, and although it would make people all creative and stuff, it wouldn’t impact your bottom line in the slightest. Because it isn’t more ideas you need, it’s not killing the ones you already have. In my research, I’ve found a myriad of ways through which companies kill ideas. Bad processes is one, a lack of leadership is another, but the number one idea killer in the world is one that gets little attention – not having a culture in which ideas can take root, but which kills them through not caring.

This can play out in a number of ways. It might be that an eager young employee suggests a new way of working, but only elicits yawns in response. It might be the way in which people who aren’t seen as “innovators” get marginalized and feel that their ideas are not listened to. It might be a lack of psychological safety, where the company is filled to the brim with ideas, but where no-one dares give voice to them. In all these cases, a toxic innovation culture has effectively killed innovation before it even has had the chance to present its first, weak saplings.

What leaders need to do is not just to demand people innovate, or encourage people to “think outside of the box” (a phrase I hate with burning passion). The first task of the innovation leader is to ensure that the culture into which ideas might come is fertile ground for them, rather than a place where only the few get listened to and where ideas are more likely to get shrugged or yawned at than engaged with. You might already have a well of ideas, but if the water is poisoned, it won’t help you a whit.

So before you have your next creativity workshop or innovation initiative, make sure you’ve audited your culture for the things ideas need to flourish. Is it respectful, to ideas and people, and is the conversation civil? Does it exhibit psychological safety, and encourage diverse ideas and conversations? Is it inclusive or exclusive – does everyone get invited to play? Is your culture one of generosity, of give and take, or is it every person and idea for themselves? Unless you are prepared to reflect over such things, it rarely matters what kind of innovation management you have in place, and all those innovation consultants will be for naught. For just like culture might eat strategy for breakfast, it can have a ravenous appetite for ideas, killing them outright at the very first moment they come out of hiding.

So don’t complain about how your company, or your team, lacks ideas. It doesn’t. It never did. Complain about the culture that kills your ideas before they come to fruition, and then start thinking about what you might do to change the situation. Make sure people stop poisoning the well, and you’ll never go without ideas again. You might get a nicer, more civil organization to boot.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Alf Rehn | Innovation for the FatiguedAlf Rehn, author of Innovation for the Fatigued: How to Build a Culture of Deep Creativity, is recognized as a global thought-leader in the field of innovation and creativity. Rehn is Professor of Innovation, Design, and Management at the University of Southern Denmark, sits on numerous boards of directors, is a bestselling author, and serves as a strategic advisor for hot new startups to Fortune 500 companies.

For more information, please visit KoganPage.

4 Areas Your Business Should Be Focusing On This Year

StrategyDriven Business Performance Assessment Program Article | Business Performance Improvement | 4 Areas Your Business Should Be Focusing On This YearThe reality is that if you try to take on too much at once with your business, this approach may backfire on you. It’s better to focus in on a few essential initiatives than it is to spread yourself too thin and, in turn, end up accomplishing nothing.

There are four areas in particular that your business should highly consider concentrating on this year if you want to experience more success. Take time to review the following ideas and then think about which areas you’re performing well and which ones could use more of your time and attention so that you can come up with a plan of action for moving forward.

1. Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is one area you definitely want to focus on this year if you’re going to run a better business. It’s important to collect feedback and track your customer service performance, so you know exactly how you’re doing. The happier your customers are, the more likely it is that your business will receive positive reviews online and that consumers will start talking about you with each other and spreading the word about why it’s a wise choice to do business with you.

2. Health & Safety Obligations

Additionally, commit to following health and safety protocol and running a safer business this year. You’ll avoid unwanted situations this way and be able to retain your employees because they’ll feel safe and protected coming to work each day. Properly ventilate and extract dust and waste by using products from Integrated Air Systems to help you achieve this goal. This way, you’ll reduce the risk of equipment breaking down or someone getting sick or hurt because of unsafe working conditions.

3. Employee Retention

Another area your business should be focusing on this year has to do with employee retention. The truth is that people are more willing to change jobs these days if they’re unhappy at their current employer. Keep your employees satisfied and motivated by assigning them challenging tasks and rewarding them fairly for their efforts. Be willing to gather feedback from and listen to your employees so you can create an even more attractive work environment.

4. Innovation

Your business should also be concentrating on how to innovate your products or services in the upcoming year. Going along with business as usual might be the easy answer, but it’s not what’s going to help you stay relevant or get ahead of your competitors. Hold brainstorming sessions with your employees and use your creativity to come up with new solutions that are impressive and newsworthy.

Conclusion

Achieve better results with your business this year when you’re focusing on improving in the right areas. Use these tips to help you set more specific goals about what it is you wish to accomplish and what challenges you need to overcome in the future. Start by coming up with a plan of action and then writing down specific details about how you’ll properly execute each objective.

News Flash: Innovation Is No Longer Just a Specialist’s Job. Now Here’s How to Involve Your Whole Workforce Instead

StrategyDriven Innovation ArticleThe classic method of segregating innovation to a single department, or to a process led by specialists, just isn’t fast enough any longer. What’s needed is a culture in which innovation is the mission of everyone, everywhere, every day. What’s not understood is how to do it.

Most innovation methods don’t actually result in innovative solutions. Research finds that just 5 to 15 percent of innovations are successful at large companies. Most business leaders would have greater odds of success if they went to a Las Vegas casino and gambled their innovation investment on one big bet. But companies pursuing innovation as their core business strategy realize 50 to 100 percent higher profit margins than those who pursue low cost, high quality and fast delivery strategies, or simply doing whatever the customer says.

Yet now, with Innovation Engineering – a data-driven, reliable system for creating fresh ideas and successfully turning them into reality – companies can transform innovation from a random act to a reliable science. Innovation Engineering is validated in real-world practice, and has been the launch pad for more than $16 billion in growth and system improvement projects.

Every existing innovation program preaches the importance of embracing a childlike, creative spirit. This works for the 15 percent of the work population who have a right brain creative thinking style. But it doesn’t work for the 85 percent with a logical left-brain thinking style. And without the 85 percent who are logical, there’s virtually no chance a meaningfully unique innovation will become reality. Left brainers are critical to accomplishing the engineering, finance, production and operational work that’s required to make meaningful change happen.

Innovation Engineering methods and tools are designed to engage both left and right brain thinkers. Projects are focused with clear, motivating strategic missions that speak to both project vision and boundaries. The result is an unleashing of a culture of “whole brain” thinking.

The following are some of the essential practices of Innovation Engineering:

1. Create systems that enable instead of control. The word “system,” especially in connection with innovation, creates a vision of being controlled, constrained and restricted. That’s not the purpose of Innovation Engineering. It’s a system designed to enable innovation by everyone. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a renowned systems specialist, observed: “Ninety-four percent of problems are caused by the system — 6 percent by the workers.” In fact, 99 percent of companies have no system for innovation. Often, leaders don’t believe the people in their organization can innovate, or they blame their people for a lack of innovation. In fact, the problem lies in their lack of an embedded innovation system. A new mindset is needed to embrace the discovery of ideas, methods and tools for working smarter.

2. Generate a multitude of ideas to end up a big idea. Invite teams of workers to free-associate around a problem or challenge. The more ideas you create, the more big ideas you end up with. For example, a business selling Christmas trees, who needed to find a profitable way to dispose of leftover trees, generated a multitude of ideas, such as pine needle tea and pine oil extract. The notion of creating great ideas by first creating lots of unrealistic ones is a viable approach to innovation.

3. Discover and develop “meaningfully unique” innovation. Innovation Engineering’s definition of innovation is precise: meaningful, in that it has an obvious value to the customer – that is, customers would willingly give up their existing behaviors for it; and unique, in that it’s genuinely original. Often it offers a quantifiable advantage that you can put a number on that shows how much better it is versus the existing alternative.

4. Analyze potential “death threats.” Key issues that could keep an idea from succeeding, in Innovation Engineering termed death threats, must be resolved through disciplined systems of discovery, instead of the old “declare and defend” approach. The term denotes the emotional intensity that matches a fear of unknowns inherent in innovation. It enables honest conversations about critical issues without igniting defensiveness. Instead of saying, “Your idea can’t work,” others are taught to say, “There could be a death threat with this idea.” Defining a challenge (such as a regulatory barrier) as a hypothetical concern moves it to the less confrontational third person. Death threats are examined by creating “What if?” hypotheses and experiments.

5. Add define and discover phases before the classic develop and deliver phases. To enable speed and success with innovation projects, include disciplined front-end phases to get clarity on the entire idea before entering the “develop” stage. Innovation Engineering designers have found that adding these phases increases development success by up to 250 percent. Two big decision points occur before develop and deliver where bulk of the investment (60% and 30%) is made. The define stage involves laying out the entire idea, as opposed to a sequential system of hand-offs from marking to R&D to production and sales. The discover stage involves problem-solving to reduce uncertainty and address the project’s death threats.

6. Know that patent owners reap the rewards. Patent filings in the U.S. have grown exponentially. While ideas alone aren’t patentable, the methods or the proofs of innovative ideas are. The importance of technology ownership is significant. The U.S. Patent Office found that, on average, wages are 42 percent higher for those employees who work in intellectual property intensive industries versus non-intellectual property intensive industries. Filing of provisional patents now take hours, not weeks, and doing so is a no-brainer.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert ContributorDoug Hall is an inventor, researcher, educator and craft whiskey maker. He is founder of the Eureka! Ranch, Innovation Engineering Institute and Brain Brew Custom Whisk(e)y. He’s been named one of America’s top innovation experts by Inc. magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Dateline NBC, CNBC, CIO Magazine and the CBC. His new book, Driving Eureka! Problem Solving with Data Driven Methods & the Innovation Engineering System (Clerisy Press,Oct. 16, 2018) describes how to transform innovation from random acts to a reliable science. Learn more at doughall.com.

Important Lessons You Can Learn from Past Successful Products

In business, success is never a one-time achievement. You want to reach the level of success you aim for and then stay at that level – if not advance further – to remain successful. It is not uncommon for businesses to revise their objectives every few years; some even do it every year.

Maintaining success is often more difficult than becoming successful in the first place. You now have something to lose as the leader of the market. In this article, we are going to look at the important lessons about maintaining success from products that were successful on the market.

Always Listen to the Customers

The moment you stop listening to the customers is the moment you will start failing on the market. Just because you have a successful product, doesn’t mean you can keep customers happy without doing anything. This is a trap that may businesses have fallen for in the past, and one that you should never fall victim to today.

You only need to look at the iPod 6th-Generation review on ArgyllFreePress.com to know what I’m talking about. The iPod was one of the most successful lines of products on the market. The iPod 6 is at the top of that long history, offering incredible performance to people who didn’t need an iPhone.

Unfortunately, there were some important market demands that the iPod didn’t meet. The lack of better DAC and the fact that some apps will not even work on the iPod disappointed some avid fans of the product. Apple failed to listen to its customer base, turning the iPod 6 into a mixed bag of success and failure on the market.

Learn and Innovate

Success is often considered the most dangerous comfort zone of them all. Once you are successful – or see yourself as being successful – you start feeling more and more comfortable about the position. It doesn’t take long before the lure of being in a comfort zone gets to you.

We’ve had so many cases of market giants being defeated because of this issue. Toyota took over the American market from GM. Samsung started winning in Asian markets with new and innovative products. The same occurrences can even be seen in competitions between small businesses and startups.

Be Flexible

There is no sure-fire way to maintain success. You can’t have a strategy and expect it to remain effective on the face of market changes. You can’t be stubborn and stick to the old ways when there is a certain need for change.

Be flexible. Being flexible is one of the most important keys to maintaining success. It goes hand in hand with the need to learn and innovate; the business has to remain agile and you as the entrepreneur need to promote that agility.

The only thing that must never change is the “why”; the main reason why you entered the market in the first place. It is the heart of the business. Stick to your principles, use the tips we covered in this article, and stay successful for longer, even in today’s volatile market.