Building an Innovation Process
So far, I trust that you’ve come to realise that the continual creation of fresh Business Ideas are what you need to continue to grow, thrive and survive in your industry, and to continually gain advantage over the competition.
In my last article about barriers to innovation, I highlighted some key reasons why you may be struggling to implement a culture of innovation into your operation. I hope I didn’t scare you off the thought, but more so began to help pave a way forward for you. In saying that though, you are reading this article, which means you must still be keen to unravel this sometimes mysterious world of Business Ideas & Innovation.
This article is the first in a series of four articles to help you build a structured approach to implementing an Innovation Process.
Step 1 – SPACE FOR CREATIVITY
It may just be that you or one of your team members often have ‘light bulb’ moments and are continually overflowing with new ideas. You may even be known as the “Ideas Man“, around the office. If that’s you, than it’s great hear I have a partner in crime. My mind never stops ticking, and I am often reminded of this fact as I am constantly popping out crazy ideas. While this is good, not everyone is built like this.
So this first step in to building an Innovation Process is all about helping us get a little scientific and set up the right environment to encourage creative thinking.
Making a habit and reserving regular time on the clock for creativity – be it monthly, fortnightly, or weekly – will see you on the right track to developing new business ideas. What you focus on, grows.
Set the Right Environment
In conjunction with designating time for creativity, the right environment in which to foster creativity must be offered to your team.
By simply removing them from their desks and offices and placing them in say a comfortable lounge area, park, or cosy room free of computer screens and mobile phones, your staff will be already be more attune with their creative selves, and more able to connect with their inner entrepreneur.
In addition, offering more basic creative tools such as coloured pens, sticky notes, note pads, whiteboards, puzzles and ample wall space to display ideas, will encourage staff members to get creative and artistic, allowing them to delve in to the three-dimensional world, rather than the two-dimensional one they consistently experience at their desks.
When a team member sits immersed in the two-dimensional world of their computer screen, tablet interface or mobile phone for eight or more hours, five days a week, it can hardly be anticipated that they will generate an innovative idea that could potentially boost business sales and productivity through the roof.
However, given designated time in an atypical workspace, and the necessary creative tools, they are far more likely to produce ideas worthy of prototype development.
The aim of designating a separate time and space in the work environment for creativity is to engage the imagination, and foster the creativity necessary to construct business ideas ideas that could potentially be developed into business innovations. As I already mentioned, at the end of the day, what we focus on, grows. So let’s grow Ideas.
Next you must give the group a licence to fail. Let them know it is a safe environment and it is designed to bring out the best ideas. Let’s assume the ratio of Bad Ideas to Good ideas is at least 10 to 1, then we need to give the group permission to express ALL their ideas (good or bad) in rapid fire. The sooner we hear all the bad ideas, the sooner we get to the good ones.
During these times of creative development workers should be free to think, feel, research or plan any ideas that come to mind; there are no right or wrong answers, and experiencing failure during times of experimentation is one of the keys to creativity.
We need to ensure the group feels safe to lay everything on the table, and besides some of the worst ideas, sporn thoughts towards some of the best ideas. It’s the synergy of the group at play.
However, in order to make the free time productive for you and your organisation, a specific focus must be set for the creative period. So yes ‘Set Free’ but ‘With a Focus’. You need to set the agenda or scope of works you would like developed. Not too narrow, but certainly not too wide.
This way, the potential-innovators are free to explore their minds for business ideas that could become wealth-creating innovations, though their focus is honed on just one or several specific areas most relevant to your business needs at the time.
Now, here’s the key.
All has been set to foster creativity. However, if you’re an astute business owner or manager, you know productivity is a key ingredient to financial success and profits. You may be wondering “So how much time are we going to waste on this Innovation Mumbo Jumbo?” You rightly are concerned about the bottom line. Well here, you get to take control and assert some authority.
Ask the team, how much time they think they need to work through the project and focus points you have given them. No matter what their answer, cut in half. So if they say they need 2 hours, tell them they have 1 hour and you’d like them to report back to you at that point.
The nature of placing deadlines on things, brings things to a head and ultimately is the key in making the realization of fresh business ideas coming to the surface. Do Not miss this step. Set a definite deadline which they will likely think is unrealistic.
In closing, this first stage of the innovation process – Space for Creativity – is about creating an innovation tempo for your business, by getting employees engaged in a regular work pattern that includes nominated periods of creativity and idea generation.
Once we have set the stage for the creative ideas to begin flowing, it is then time to take the next step along the innovation journey – Step 2 – Idea Development – which will be explored in depth in the next blog installment.
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