Creativity and innovation are becoming critical pieces of strategic planning as organizations attempt to stay current. The world around us is rapidly changing, and those that will thrive in this new economy will be the ones that realize the tremendous value of taping the creativity of their work force. With that said, leading creativity and innovation is something that many managers are not well experienced in. There are a few keys to driving creativity and innovation in your organization.
1. COMMIT TO IT
Leadership must commit to innovation, even though it doesn’t always fit a neat and clean business plan. Senior leaders and managers can often be so trained to pull the plug on “nonperforming” endeavors that innovation will give them a nervous tick. You have to stick with it, and be committed to the process. Creativity doesn’t always happen between 9am and 5pm in a cubicle. Leaders need to be open to fresh perspective, questioning, and new approaches as part of an overall commitment to innovation and creativity.
2. FEED THE INFORTATION
The greatest fuel for creativity success is information. The more information you give a creative team (or individual), the more likely they are to get you the answers you desire. It is very difficult for innovative thinkers to create solid plans and ideas without the whole picture. This will most likely require managers and senior leaders to provide their teams with much more information than they might have in the past. In fact, sometimes manager may feel like they are feeding their teams information they shouldn’t even know. An open and transparent organization will be much more successful at innovation and creativity. You must make decisions early and feed the information to those being asked to innovate and create to find real success in these departments.
3. STRUCTURE AROUND IT
Innovators and creatives so often suffer from burnout due to “fighting the system”. They often receive mixed signals from management saying they want creativity, but a structure and culture that wants conformity. All you are going to get with this is turnover of great people and lack of great ideas. It is critical that leaders remove roadblocks and fight for change on behalf of their innovators and creatives. There is surely a balance here between valuing what exists and pushing for change, but to often great ideas fail and great creatives burn out do to a system that fights back. Make sure your creative problem solvers and innovators have a place to work, a senior level sponsor, and resource access.