How To Become A Successful Innovator Part II: Set The Stage


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In my previous post I talked about why you need to break the rules and un-learn things to be a creative person.  Here, I will share some ideas for discussion on how to foster innovation in organizations.

Let me first share a lesson I learned today about problem solving : I started noticing a  water leakage  in the  basement of my house. I thought it came from two very old faucets in my bathroom so I started  looking in the bathroom but found nothing. Then my housekeeper pointed at me that we could hear the evacuation of the water in the pipes on the right side of the wall. Because of the bias about the faucets, I saw what I wanted to see with the illusion that the water came out from the left side of the wall,  just under my bathroom. Later she discovered the leak by drying everything and then just following  the water path. So lesson learned: Good problem solvers have a  systemic approach and do not jump into conclusions without checking first all objective facts.

I mentioned in previous postThree Ways To Stimulate or Kill Creativity In the Office“, now  lets summarize the most important factors to create an environment that foster innovation.

Creativity and innovation are vital for keeping a company’s competitive edge but also for individual well-being.

1-Stakeholders should first decide if the organization wants to be a  leading innovative company and commit to provide the environment, support and resources needed.  With the financial crisis, many companies cut on their R&D costs or transfer some design work abroad. Is that good or bad ? unfortunately I think we will only see the results of such strategy in 5 or 10 years from now.

2-The Managers’ people skills are  crucial for enabling creativity.  Knowing team members, their strengths, typical learning styles and natural behaviors help create teams that challenge the status quo. Leaders and managers need to  inspire trust, be open, be challenging but not overwhelming. empowering, giving freedom and give clear directions without micromanaging.

3-Managing talents is not about putting a bunch of all-stars together, it is about creating a team of people who share the same excitement for the project, are intrinsically motivated, have different expertise with diverse cultural backgrounds. In an article ‘Why dream teams fail”, the author took a very good example: The movie “Ocean’s Twelve” starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Julia Roberts  received flames from the critics and generated less revenues than the star-free “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

4-Using proven creativity tools  and  innovation processes: you need systematic approaches to optimize creativity, I have been using Debono’s Six Thinking Hats method with good results for problem solving or for generating new ideas, especially in multicultural teams to avoid prejudices and groupthink.  Many other creativity tools are used for developing innovative services and products such as brainstorming.

If you want to share the creativity tools you are using,  please post a comment-Thank you.

In conclusion: Most Innovative organizations have a formal process to spark innovation. They use employee’s intrinsic motivation and thinking power. They make them happy and have fun. They give a clear focus on market needs. They adjust rapidly budget allocation to stop following ideas that don’t work and allocate resources to most promising projects. With the current economic turmoil a lot of companies decided to cut costs on R&D and to outsource some design work. But nobody really knows if  this will have an impact on their global competitiveness.

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