Is creativity something your company craves or is it something you do only when you get around to it? I’m hoping your company craves creativity. If not, here are some things you might want to think about.
Ask the question, “What would happen if?”
Creativity is often attached to changing the status quo. One of the best ways I know of doing this is by asking the question, “What would happen if?” Another way of saying this is “let’s pretend it was different.” When you ask what would happen if, you’re asking to suspend judgement. It’s the suspension of judgement that I think is the first step to making creativity a permanent part of what you do.
Allow mistakes to be part of your process.
If you’re trying to be creative you’re going to make a few mistakes. If you pretend mistakes don’t happen, there’s no way you’ll have the freedom for creativity. Stop pretending mistakes aren’t there. Start making them part of what you do.
When a mistake happens in your company, the first question you need to ask is, “what did you learn?” Don’t let someone walk away until they give you a reasonable learning experience. Otherwise you can be sure you’ll just get yourself into a loop where the same mistake shows up over and over.
Look for singles.
Too often people look for home runs and huge wins, but they are really rare. They’re even rare for companies like Apple or Google. If you look at most of the innovations Apple makes they’re little ones. In fact, they’re often so little the only thing the business and technology press can do is whine about them.
Then, if you continue watching you’ll see that Apple will heap another small innovation on top of another small innovation. Before long they’ve gone from doing something that doesn’t look impressive to something that is very impressive. We can do the same thing irrespective of our organization or job description.
Fail fast and fail cheap.
This fits in with singles and mistakes. When you are trying something new it should be small enough so that you can say it worked and continue or more likely didn’t work and move on quickly, the faster the better.
Include customers and colleagues.
If you have access to a customer advisory board, this would be a big help. Your customers may not know what they want that’s new. At the same time they will know if something new fits into what they want. If you’re in product development sales or production, including your customers only makes sense. Developing in a vacuum is not the best way of moving yourself or your organization forward.
Include your colleagues and associates.
I believe that this is essential for internal innovation programs. I subscribe that associates are the experts at their jobs. They are often not treated as such. Some team leaders may even pretend that they know how to do things the best.
When associates are treated like experts at their job, they will begin speaking up. They might even come up with an idea or two on how to make things better. It’s our job to listen and find ways to implement the ideas, not shoot them down.
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