We hear plenty of advice for leaders on what they should do to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in their organizations. It might be smarter to just stop making some of the common mistakes which inhibit innovation.
Try this brainstorm method; the Contradictory Innovation – also known as the Waterproof Teabag method. Take your leading product or service and everyone has to describe a version which completely undermines or contradicts one of the main properties of the item. The more ridiculous the better. Then you take each useless idea and see if it leads anywhere useful. Like a silent disco.
Many companies plough money into innovation projects without a clear strategy for their overall portfolio. Here is a method which gives a framework for sorting and reviewing our innovation initiatives.
There are still large swathes of businesses which remain untouched by the Open Innovation initiative. They refuse to join the bandwagon. The leaders of these organisations pay lip service to open innovation and claim that their people are open to outside ideas and collaboration but the reality is very different. There appear to be a number of very real impediments.
Most managers when looking at a radical proposal will try to reference it against an existing model of success. And of course it does not fit. They compare it with current products and markets. They try to use existing products as benchmarks because that is what they understand best. But if the idea is revolutionary then existing products are useless as comparisons because they are so different.
The brainstorm is the most popular group creativity exercise in business. It is quick, easy and it works. But many organizations have become frustrated with brainstorms and have stopped using them. They say brainstorms are old-fashioned and no longer effective. But the real reason for the frustrations is that their brainstorms are not facilitated properly. A well-run brainstorm is fun and energetic. It will generate plenty of good ideas. But a poor brainstorm can be frustrating and demotivational. Let’s look at some simple ways to ruin your next brainstorm meeting.
A good way to start a brainstorm is to deliberately look for wrong answers. Set the challenge and then ask people to think of crazy ideas which are just plain wrong. Then take some of the more outrageous wrong ideas and kick them around. People will be outside their comfort zone and they will approach the original challenge from a new perspective. Each crazy notion can be provocative and stimulating. What is more each wrong answer is itself the answer to a different question. Sometimes these different questions are more interesting than the original challenge.
I came across an interesting article entitled 10 Great Inventions Dreamt up by Children. They range from earmuffs to crayon holders to an underwater talking device. The stories of their young creators are inspiring for anyone interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. The article begs some questions. Why are children so much more creative than adults? How does that creativity get crushed? What other great ideas do children have that are ignored?
A recent special report in the Economist highlights a growing trend among American and European companies; they are bringing back work which was previously offshored or outsourced to cheaper locations. Offshoring means moving work and jobs outside of the country in which the company is based; outsourcing means giving work to outside companies. The process of bringing the work back is known as re-shoring.
In order to nurture innovation in the workplace, business leaders need to set an example of forward thinking and open mindedness. By illustrating their vision and encouraging change, strong leadership will drive the threshold of innovative thinking. Take the time to re-evaluate your dynamic creative structure, and open up the communication barriers between the driving minds in your company or business. Paul Sloane, an innovation speaker, provides his top 10 tips for the Innovation leader, offering blatant advice for managers who want to enhance their creative productivity.