Five ways to build innovation
1. Learning and reading
New information will open your mind to new possibilities. There is absolutely nobody in the world who has your unique combination of learning and experience, and the more you learn and the more frequently you read, the more new ideas will come to life. Your knowledge and experience is the platform for your ideas and solutions to problems. A book, an article or a short course can all make you look at existing problems in a new way, and it is this updated perspective that gives you the ability to innovate.
There is a responsibility that comes with learning, and that is to apply what you have learned to the way you act. If you read a personal finance book but keep maxing out your credit card, the knowledge is wasted. If you read self-help books but continue on a path of destructive relationships, you'll continue to get similar results to what you always have.
2. Sharing ideas – especially when they seem stupid
Because monotony is the natural enemy of creativity, it often takes someone with the courage to say something completely unconventional to spark an idea in a group. By sharing your ideas you create the potential in other people to either build or come up with their own. Not all ideas are good ideas, but some are the building blocks to great ideas, so it is always good to share your ideas. If they have been tried and tested in the past you will learn a little more about the industry you're in. If they haven't been tried, you need to ask why not, and look into the feasibility.
The biggest difference between innovative working environments and those that aren't is how suggestions and new ideas are treated. There is a tendency to shoot down ideas, to respond critically and point out what's wrong with a suggestion and find reasons to justify the current course of action above all else. But this is only part of the equation. To look at the limitations or weaknesses of an idea is important, but if you put as much time into looking at what is right with an idea the difference is stark. Innovative environments treat ideas like a welcome guest, not an unwanted stranger.
3. Look at problems as opportunities
Innovative people are not crushed by problems and roadblocks. Like everyone else, they will get disappointed, but their mind quickly turns to problem-solving mode: "How do we get through this?" "How do we get around this?" Frustration is a part of life, but those who roll up their sleeves and look at how to solve the problem are most likely to find something new or a constructive path ahead. Those who get bogged down in blame and finger-pointing miss out on the chance to solve problems and innovate, and ultimately share successes along the way.
4. Reassess the facts
The notion of 'tried and true' runs counter to the fast-changing world we live in. The notions we hold as facts may have been true at one point, but we all need to constantly assess what we're basing our decisions on. Once we start to question the fundamentals we will quickly discover a flood of possibilities. This is true of people, for example: "John is not a morning person ¬– don't bother talking to him before 10am", right through to key strategic pieces of information, such as "You can't trust the quality of goods from..."
5. Give it time
Time is a precious resource, and we spend a lot of it rushing from one task to the next – but how much time do we dedicate to thinking? By completing as many tasks as possible in the shortest time possible we are constantly taxing our energy sources, and at the same time our ability to be creative. I would challenge everyone to spend 10 minutes a day for the next week simply thinking. Without a laptop, phone or co-worker in sight. Just 10 minutes a day will open your mind.
Everyone can decide to make improvements and to share suggestions, and once that mindset is created, a world of innovation and creativity awaits!
Eve Ash has produced many videos and training resources on innovation and thinking patterns.