Everyone wants to be innovative. We are no longer in a time where logic and reason rules all. In a world where machines and automation aid such a substantial part of our work and threaten to take over repetitive tasks completely, the ability to innovate is becoming a more valuable commodity than ever. Creative thought is becoming the prized asset.
Most executives have the desire to stimulate innovation and creative thinking amongst employees. That is not the problem. The problem is promoting the right culture throughout the organisation to encourage innovation. What do I mean by right culture?
Firstly, we must understand what innovation really means, and whence, what creativity really means.
What is Innovation?
Innovation is thought of as new ideas, new sparks of creative thought that can change the business landscape – a way of connecting the dots. This is correct; however, I believe the way we are going about it is all wrong. We are attempting to force creativity. Such a thing does not exist. One cannot sit at their desk or gather around a table in a meeting room and decide to be creative for the next two hours. No one can be creative; you can only allow creativity to happen. An active pursuit of new ideas will only leave you frustrated, stressed and full of self-doubt. True creativity is a passive flow of events that seems to just happen to you from time to time when your mind is calm.
Children as Role-Models
Some of the most creative people we know are children. Their constant “outside-the-box” thinking that executives yearn for their employees can be seen in abundance when we can barely tie our shoelaces. They are constantly asking questions about anything and everything. We must rediscover our childlike awe, curiosity and ability to ask questions.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
– Pablo Picasso.
So, how do we ensure that there is a culture throughout our organisation cultivating creative thought, cultivating out-the-box thinking, and cultivating innovation?
In the current era of information overload, where information has been commoditised, the key to innovation is not gathering more data but rather asking more questions.
Great questions reframe an issue and force you to look at things from a different perspective, a different angle; and all questions are great questions. When a random flicker of a thought floats through the head of an employee, ensure they feel free and comfortable to express that thought.
Not only the, “Why don’t we try this?” kind of questions, but also the, “Why do we do it like that?” and the, “What is the point?” type questions. More often than not, the answer will be “We have always done it like that.” – The worst response you could want for an organisation trying to stimulate innovation.
Rediscover your curiosity. Be the young child who is constantly questioning the status quo.
Question. Create. Innovate.