Innovation and creativity are perpetual skills.
We all display innovation and creativity at work through visible or subtle routes. It is important to think about the creativity we display every day to motivate ourselves at workplace. This is inevitably true for employees and entrepreneurs.
When innovation takes the centre stage, the divide between an entrepreneur and an employee fades away. I am sure, all of us can recall a lot of instances when we did a small but extraordinary display of innovation and creativity at work.
Kaizen or continuous improvement has its fundamentals rooted in the innate and unlimited capabilities. In the capabilities of the team members to innovate. Even more if they are given a conducive environment.
Here are a few of the catalysts helping an organization and its people to be at their innovative best. There are many more catalysts. These can both be tangible and intangibles. We must also keep in mind that these are mere catalysts.
The real force lies within us. We just need to free our inner selves to let our potentials spell magic at workplace. The same will perpetuate in our day to day life.
Related post- Mantras for workplace innovation.
7 Catalysts of innovation and creativity at work
1. Competition– Competition brings out the best in all of us. Having healthy competition at workplace helps in overall evolution of the organization. Reward is an added perquisite for staying an edge ahead of competition.
It is said that innovation begets competition and competition begets innovation. We all must compete with each other to explore the best. The real competition is always from within. Once we get used to competition, the competitive pressure goes down even to the extent of being eliminated.
Our inner best through enhanced creativity then comes out. Related article from entrepreneurs.com (Is Competition a Catalyst for Innovation?).
2. Participatory exercises for innovation and creativity at work– Design challenges, creating prototypes, getting feedback, rehearsing and refining are few of the many ways of Participatory exercises. This enhances level of creativity at work. It’s more about knitting people in team.
The unified force is what creates an aura in the organization. The culture of innovation that develops by these exercises makes the organization dynamic and ever evolving. Team participation leads to pooling of all available resources and leveraging of the human resources.
3. Coaching– Going through the transition for incorporating innovative practices is not necessarily easy.
The process is analogous to the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. It goes blind, its legs fall off, and its body is torn apart as the beautiful wings emerge.
A hierarchical bureaucracy is quite similar to the caterpillar. It needs to be converted into a flexible, self-generating homogeneous group. This change can be painful, and it requires enormous courage from those who lead the process of change.
A coach at times is external to bring in the changed paradigm. However, coaching is not limited to external consultants. It should be deeply rooted within the culture of organization and every member of the team should step up and contribute. It will help propagation of innovation and creativity at work. Innovation will flourish within the cultural framework and promote creativity at work.
4. In house social network– Alliances within the organizational ecosystem help in easier passage of innovation. Several organizations are building in house social network with or without technology interventions.
Group activities and think labs are brain child of change evangelists promoting these networks. Customized internet based social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have also become popular. Also popular are blogging forums to share and reflect upon ideas. This helps to identify the sources of innovation and fuels creativity within the ecosystem.
We all know how a small innovation within the Harvard University has become the giant Facebook we know of today. This is what in-house social network can do to an organization. Anonymised forums further help in receiving unprejudiced information about the market attractiveness and shortlisted experiments.
5. Presentation to experimentation– Presentations are now becoming old school thing. Experimentation while presenting is the new trend in organizations. Activities, discussions, role-plays, stand up acts etc. are the catalysts to innovation at work place. Experimentation gives organizations a license to innovate.
IBM has associated itself with innovation and creativity through experimentation and so have the management of Apple and Amazon.com. Incidentally, these organizations have comparatively lower human resource attrition rates than industry average.
Related article from Harvard Business Review- Innovation Catalysts.
6. Solitude– Open floor plans which were accepted globally are now being replaced by green offices. These provide proximity to nature. Solitude gives a soothing effect enhancing creativity at work. It also helps in getting the best out of a person.
Meditation rooms and greenery provide with the desired solitude to people at workplaces. Studies have shown that meditation can accelerate the information processing capability of the brain. It also helps to manage the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety.
Research has also demonstrated that those who practice meditation, are happier and calmer than their counterparts at workplace. The sprawling new green campus of Facebook.com or the meditation rooms in the offices of Apple, Google.com, Nike, McKinsey and co, Yahoo etc. provide the desired solitude at workplace. It helps people de-stress and explore the innovative capabilities within themselves.
7. Diversity– We must rope in at times a stand-up comedian, a lawyer or an artist to discuss key issues at workplace. It has to be someone who can look at the issue from an alternate frame. This will foster innovation and creativity at work.
As an example, when the problem is in our own body, we need a doctor to advise us. However, he/she might have very limited knowledge of our health but is an expert in detecting and curing diseases. So, we need to know perspectives of those who are well versed with the term ‘creativity’.
Diversity is not only about working and interacting with a cosmopolitan crowd. It is also about a diverse crowd in terms of perspectives. Diversity based on religions, ethnicity, gender and races are now slowly giving way to diversity based on perspectives, morality, educational proclivity, interests and skills.
Related article on creativity at work- Ways to improve creativity at work
The main catalyst to innovation and creativity is in the brain. We just need to set the neurons free through methods mentioned above. Keep experimenting to allow creative juices to flow from within. Keep innovating and stay blessed!