Determining if creative thinking is playing a prominent role in your organization is a key step to take, because today’s digital world requires we innovate with the trends, not behind it.
Innovation is currently the frontrunner across numerous conversations and studies. Successful organizations truly know its significance and apply it as a core part of their business philosophy—take a glance at Forbes’ most innovative companies of 2017.
If you and your team is facing some innovation barriers, know that you can overcome them, but it will take a revamping of the existing structure and culture in place. Instead of making huge leaps in hopes to become the best creative power-house, try with everyday innovation first. Here are 5 tips to use everyday innovation in your organization (we use them ourselves here at Be-novative).
1. Re-examine the role of leadership
This is first on the list because it is the foundation to rewiring your culture. Leadership should hone in on innovation and not just as a concept—this particularly means to nurture the bottom-up of your organization. Why? Because in a bottom-up structure ideas are initiated by employees opposed to those strictly at the top.
Bill Campbell, considered one of the legends of Silicon Valley, said: “my job is to nurture the bottom-up . . . I’m a human glue, I’m a connector, I’m an aggregator of viewpoints. I’m never a dictator of viewpoints.”
Being a human glue and an aggregator of viewpoints is—in other words—creating a safe space for your people to share their slice to the conversation. Establishing a suitable environment happens with mindset and action. Set your intention to nurture the bottom-up, then revise your company values and action protocol if need be.
2. Have weekly innovation sessions
Dedicate 20 to 30 minutes in weekly creative workshops that are centered around early-stage innovation. These should be focused on the essential benefit like 1) sharing knowledge on what’s happening in a particular industry or 2) discussing new ideas to inspire each other’s curiosity.
Actually engage and encourage every member. There’s no purpose in a workshop without the effort from its participants. You can keep it interesting such as preparing a question exercise beforehand or playing an interactive icebreaker to get brains flowing.
At Be-novative, we hold ideation sessions every Friday for 30 minutes. In our meetings, any member can ask a challenge question for the whole team to ideate on. This keeps us constantly aware of important goals and opportunities, and be able to find new approaches to them in an agile, creative and enjoyable way.
3. Identify real problems
It’s vital to challenge your members with real problems (as opposed to hypothetical ones) because 1) topics are specific enough to be worked on to find solutions, 2) people feel more connected to contribute, and 3) it allows minds to rethink actual issues for anything that could’ve been missed.
For example, David Burrus shared in Flash Foresight, how a pharmaceutical company needed to create new drugs to support its stock prices. They thought they needed to hire more researchers with PhDs, thus facing a budget problem. However, it turned out that the company didn’t need more researchers, but more innovative solutions to molecular problems. The challenge transformed from “how can we staff our operation?” to “how can we solve these molecular problems and create new drugs?” They crowdsourced solutions for their real problem without having to hire researchers at all.
4. Cross-pollinate ideas
The pharmaceutical company used crowdsourcing, one of the facets of everyday innovation. It is important recognizing this element of strength in the collective versus the individual.
One of the reasons that our sessions work so well is because of this very aspect of Collective Creativity. When a challenge question is asked, every person in the company from top to bottom is involved in responding to it. This means that someone from the marketing department can ask for fresh content ideas and receive awesome concepts from someone in the IT department. True story!
Basically, cross-pollinate ideas across different departments. Innovation won’t happen if it’s the same people recycling the same ideas, resources, communication methods and so and so forth. Invite everyone in your organization—make the pool of ideators diverse.
5. Keep it fun
Once again, engagement is crucial! We keep our meetings fun by using a totally new gamified approach; instead of giving points at the end of an otherwise boring task, an enjoyable flow is created from beginning to end with the right amount of collaboration and competition. We brainstorm for ideas, evaluate them, then rank and reward the ones that score the highest. This type of fun is effective, because friendly competition with built-in inspiration techniques creates motivation and helps people reach goals.
Alongside weekly workshops, plan activities that promote creativity while keeping it fun. The team recently completed a company-wide hackathon to kickstart priority projects:
We created implementable plans for four different projects in one day within eight hours. It produced some great results: 198 ideas in a span of 30 minutes and of course, fun throughout the process that fused design thinking facilitation with pizza and snacks.
In general, don’t forget that you’re rewiring your culture. Have patience with your new structure and follow through consistently. Because in today’s Age of Innovation, breakthrough solutions should be the norm.