Push for new deals
To jump-start innovation in your organization, you need to do more than talk about employees' need to be creative. Effective steps to prove that top leadership considers innovation a top priority are needed.
- Encourage creative conflict: Put together innovation teams of opinionated people from different backgrounds and let them hash out new ideas. The process will be messy and contentious. But with a strong leader on hand to keep the noisy discussion moving forward, conflict will eventually lead to innovative products and suggestions.
- Big ideas come from small teams: Small groups generate camaraderie and energy. Split up employees with clearly different identities (including having their own nicknames).
- Learning happens away from the desk: Encourage employees to learn about new technologies. Each week employees exhibit their discoveries – whether it's a new idea or a new technological process – at show-and-tell sessions.
- Understand the product's user: Don't forget that it's real people who are going to use the new product.
- Live in the future: Give thought and action to what it will be like to live and work in the next century – and notice unforeseen problems.
- Forgive failure: It's okay to fail, as long as people learn from the failure. "The faster a project flops, the quicker it gets better."
- First brainstorm: Once you have an idea, build some kind of prototype. You'll find problems that didn't show up on paper. Also, use the prototype to get feedback from users.
- Remember the project leader's mantra: Understand the product and market; observe the users; visualize through prototypes, evaluate and reevaluate; implement (produce) the product.
- Teams need leaders and mentors: Hierarchy stifles innovation. Create a collegial, team-based environment. Encourage peer competition and peer review.
- Fresh ideas occur faster in a fun workplace: Look around your office. See anything frivolous or fun-loving? If the offices in your company look like airport conference rooms, don't expect your employees to be creative.
Jules Ciotta is president of Motivation Communications Associates. He can be reached at (770) 457-4100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.