What is innovation?
Innovation is a basic function of management that involves the creation and/or implementation of new or novel approaches to things, often used as a term for innovation in technology or business.
In innovation, the goal is to develop an idea into a workable solution by taking full advantage of creativity and innovation skills. In innovation training courses, you may be taught how to better understand customer wants and needs; build creative ideas; deliver those ideas with impact; turn those ideas into money-making solutions; provide incentives for innovation; and incorporate innovation and creativity throughout your organization.
What is Creativity?
Creativity: Creativity can be defined as the ability to come up with fresh, novel or inventive ideas that are appropriate for solving problems. Creative thinking can take many different forms such as innovation, invention, problem solving and so forth.
Creativity can also involve combining elements from different areas of expertise to form new ways of solving problems. Creativity is not just about being “artistic.” In business, creativity is used to develop brand awareness for a product or service by engaging the customer with a timely and relevant idea that will stimulate interest in it. Creative thinking motivates innovation within organizations and without innovation there would be no enhancements to products, services or processes – this would lead to stagnation and eventually decline as competitors continue to innovate at a faster pace.
How To Increase innovation and creativity
According to recent research on innovation carried out by Dr Richard Downs innovation can be created simply through changing perspective or looking at things differently. From the preface of his book, Hidden innovation , he says that innovation can be achieved in small steps.
He begins by suggesting that any innovation is the result of a series of small innovations, starting with an idea and ending up as a better product or service for the customer. He also suggests that innovation is not only about creating something new but to make changes which are practical in real life.
This view point is supported by Eric von Hippel in Democratizing innovation, where he develops the concept of user innovation. According to him using user driven innovation platform facilitates users to innovate products to meet their needs better than companies could because they have all the necessary information on how customers are reacting to their products without making changes.
Another approach is to encourage innovation using creativity techniques. This has been made possible with the development of new tools and innovation games which have been designed to be interactive and fun while encouraging innovation. These include innovation labs, innovation forums, brainstorming events and so forth.
Innovation games are a great way of generating innovative ideas for any organization. A number of these have been developed including:
- Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – a brain writing technique that brings together ideas from diverse sources to stimulate innovation through lateral thinking
- Grasshopper – a creativity board game inspired by Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats methodologies for stimulating creative thought
- Snake Oil – an innovation game that encourages innovation using innovation tools designed to stimulate new ideas
- I have not invented here – a creativity card game which helps players create an innovation product by combining random innovation elements together.
The above are just some of the many innovation games available, but remember there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to innovation. It’s all about having fun while coming up with unique ways of solving problems or developing creative ideas for your organization.
Creativity and innovation the leadership dynamics:
Creativity is the foremost quality of leadership. Innovation is creativity on steroids. Innovation comes from people, not companies or institutions. Therefore, each leader must seek different ways to optimize their current team’s potential for innovation, new ideas and diverse thinking.
The best way to do this is by fostering an environment where people can be creative and innovative. Innovation is a simple concept, although it can be difficult to practice. It takes confidence and desire from both the leader and those being led.
In today’s world where businesses are becoming increasingly global, these qualities of leaders have become even more important as they may need to seek new solutions for problems that were previously thought impossible to solve or do something in a way that has never been done before.
Here are seven ways to get started toward becoming an innovative organization:
- Seek creativity and innovation in your daily interactions with people: Enhance communication by keeping it short and to the point, while working on your active listening skills – this will allow you to understand why people feel or think the way they do.
- Make yourself available for new ideas and suggestions: Leaders are often too busy working on their current goals that they fail to recognize the potential in their team, which is why it’s important to make time for innovation. It will also help you channel your employees’ energy into more purposeful goals.
- Embrace failure as a learning opportunity: By understanding that failure is just as important as success, you can help your team recognize this truth. Everyone fails at some point, so it’s important to encourage your employees to keep pushing forward even when they feel like giving up.
- Don’t neglect the power of brainstorming sessions: Brainstorming sessions are an effective way for employees to get creative juices flowing. They’re certainly no longer the best idea generator for every situation, but can be useful when trying to come up with new solutions or ideas.
- Encourage your team to ask questions: Sometimes all it takes is one simple question to open up a world of possibilities. When someone asks you a question, take a moment to consider it. You might just find a better solution than the one you were originally going to offer.
- Build relationships with people from all walks of life: Building upon what was discussed earlier with communication and active listening, expanding your knowledge through diverse associations will allow you to understand different perspectives which in turn may lead to new ideas.
- Don’t get stuck in your old ways: Being open to new ideas, being curious about everything around you and exploring different methods of problem solving will allow you to find innovative solutions at every turn. Keep moving forward. Never stop learning – this includes listening to what others have to say because sometimes the best solution is one that you hadn’t considered.
There is no innovation and creativity without failure:
When asked about his greatest invention, Thomas Edison famously said it was the 1,000 failed attempts he endured before successfully inventing the light bulb. Failing is a natural part of the innovation process. But many managers go to great lengths to avoid this inevitability, from implementing new processes that artificially diminish failures or investing in technology meant to eliminate them. The problem with these attempts is that without learning from failures, it’s tough to build the knowledge necessary to make new discoveries.
Overcoming failure requires leaders at all levels of an organization to create an environment where their teams are more comfortable taking risks and making mistakes—in essence, designing a culture of innovation. This means implementing processes that encourage trial, error and iteration. Rethink Your Workflow suggests experimenting with new products in small batches; communicating the value of making failure visible via social sharing; and teaching teams how to quickly adapt to failures by using mistakes as learning opportunities.
It not only requires overcoming the fear of making mistakes, but also focusing on what is learned from each mistake. This can be done by creating safe space where people may acknowledge mistakes as such, and identifying what is learned from each mistake.
It is essential for leaders to create an environment that allows team members to try new things without fear of failure or repercussion. A culture of innovation starts with those on top demonstrating a willingness to take risks and a passion for continuous learning.
Stimulate Innovation by Encouraging the Minds of the People:
Leaders must be willing to nurture their people’s minds to encourage innovation, or it will never take root within an organization. They must sell their commitment to developing creative minds throughout the company, and they should avoid placing limits on their employees’ creativity by only allowing them to think within the box.
As part of this process, it is critical that managers are able to recognize when there is a lack of imagination present in their organization, and they should foster this kind of environment by communicating how important innovation is both to upper management and throughout the rest of the company.
It takes time to cultivate innovation, but it can be done. Leaders must first recognize the importance of creativity, and then they need to demonstrate their commitment to this by making room for creative thinking throughout the ranks of their organization.
Encourage Innovation through Collaboration:
One of the keys to developing a culture that encourages innovation is collaboration across teams within an organization. If team members feel that they are competing for resources and recognition, it will be difficult to foster a sense of togetherness necessary to encourage collaboration.
While it is important to highlight an individual’s contributions and successes, leaders must also provide ample opportunities for employees from different areas within the organization to collaborate on projects or challenges. When people work together, they naturally develop a sense of camaraderie that can lead to the kind of innovation that leaders are striving for.
By encouraging collaboration across teams within an organization, managers give their people more opportunities to work together and learn from each other. They also demonstrate how different types of thinking complement one another, which can help team members understand why it is important to reach across boundaries and share resources.
Implement a Continuous Learning Process:
The best way to encourage an innovative culture is to have a learning process in place that facilitates this kind of thinking. Organizations must foster creativity by facilitating the development of creative skills among their employees, which can be done through formal training or informal opportunities for learning.
People learn by doing; therefore, organizations should encourage managers to create projects or tasks that employees can use to improve their creative skills with the support of a more experienced employee. By making creativity a learning process, leaders demonstrate how it is an integral part of their organization’s growth and development over time.
Make Failure Visible:
While failure can be a disheartening experience for any individual, it is also one of the most effective ways to learn. By creating an organizational culture that accepts mistakes as learning opportunities, leaders demonstrate how important it is to take risks in order to innovate.
As part of this process, they should encourage employees throughout the organization to experiment through trial and error, so they can learn what works and what doesn’t work. It is the people who are willing to take risks that encourage innovation within an organization, so managers must be sure to reward this behavior among their employees.
This process requires organizations to make failure visible by allowing team members to embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. Managers should encourage tinkering, experimentation, and novel approaches to existing problems, while also rewarding team members who are willing to take these kinds of risks.
Offer Resources for Novel Approaches:
Once managers have created an environment that is conducive to risk-taking and has cultivated an innovative culture within the organization, it is important to give employees access to the resources they need to create innovative solutions.
Managers must be willing to provide employees with the money and time required for research and development of new ideas, as well as flexibility about which approaches can be used to solve a particular challenge. This sends a clear message that leadership considers creativity just as important as economic considerations or employee workloads.
By ensuring that employees have the resources they need to create sustainable solutions, organizations demonstrate how the management’s priorities are in line with their team members’ needs.
Acknowledge and Reward Team Achievements:
When people feel as though their work is being recognized by leadership, they will be more likely to continue innovating within an organization. In order for innovative efforts to be sustainable, they must be supported by team members’ managers and the rest of the organization.
Greater support leads to stronger teams that are less likely to disband over time. Implementing a formal system for recognizing achievements is important because it demonstrates how teamwork plays an integral role in organizational success.
When organizations make innovative efforts visible, they can celebrate successful individual and team achievements. This sends a clear message to employees that their work is appreciated, which encourages them to continue working hard for the good of the organization as a whole.
Make Role Models Accessible:
Role models encourage people to follow in their footsteps—so it is essential that these individuals be available to advise employees throughout the organization. By making role models accessible to team members, leaders demonstrate how much they value creative problem-solving.
Role models are important because they serve as inspiration for employees who might not think of themselves as creative or innovative. Because employees are more likely to embrace new ideas when they are modelled by people whom they respect, it is crucial that role models are both willing to provide inspiration and available to converse with employees who seek their guidance.