After researching for several years (and following different directions) the innovation phenomena in the world, especially the executive aspects of it, I can say that there are 3 critical issues to be addressed at this level. You may see the following tips as these 3 crucial directions in implementing an innovation culture in a company, from the executive level downwards.
1.Ensure that the vast majority of the employees believe they are creative. (many directions, same speed)
Usually we are blocked by a different kind of mindset which is based on beliefs like the following:
– ‘I can’t change a thing’ (a creative person would respond, ‘How do you know if you do not try?’).
– ‘Even if I strive a lot, I do not have the time to be creative’ (vs. ‘How much time would you save?’).
– ‘This is how it is. It is hard to believe this might be improved any more!’ (vs. ‘Evolution is flow and new trials’.)
– ‘I am not creative!’ (vs. ‘Is it helpful for you to believe this?’)
– ‘I was imaginative in my youth but not now!’ (vs. ‘There is nothing lost inside of you’.)
– ‘If there were a better solution, someone else would have found it’ (vs. ‘Others think the same thing, and you might be the one’.
Your inborn creativity, your own particular way of responding in the face of life’s challenges, and the way you used to act in your childhood are not lost. You prove this each and every day. In an adaptive (evolutionary) or innovative (revolutionary) way (Michael Kirton), each of us is creative in our fashion. Some of us adapt in a creative way to any situation, and others in a more radical way. In the end, it is about adapting to new situations.
Business creativity and innovation are sparked if employees believe they are creative, curious and playful in finding solutions to an ardent problem which they consider is theirs. Polarity is present here when ‘what is’ is not ‘what might be’ in one’s life. As a leader, you have to get people to trust their natural creativity.
2. Ensure that there is a free flow of the craziest ideas within your company. (MANY DIRECTIONS, intersecting)
‘Let ideas have sex’. However, just having sex does not lead to ‘baby ideas’. So instead, we should ‘let ideas make lots of love’ so that new ideas may emerge. The more you put together different mentalities and individuals representing different cultures, and the more you mix the cultural background of each individual, the greater the chances for creativity and innovation. In this respect, the communication of ideas represents the main factor for new ideas. When an employee is able to mix his professional life with other cultural environments (family, friends etc.) he belongs to and does this together with colleagues who belong to different national cultures who do the same thing, new ideas begin to form. The cultural definition of creativity is that it is quite similar to the chaotic, fractal and polarized way in which nature functions. Dr Bruce Lipton says that ‘nature has two aspects – it changes and, at the same time, remains the same. Combine a circle (cyclical changing aspect) and a vector (directional progress) and you will get a spiral’. Complexity (fractal) in nature is not complicated but a pattern evolution.
Business creativity and innovation are sparked when different people socialize and share their insights in a free manner. Employees, clients, suppliers, shareholders and stakeholders, different roles, different ages, sexes, religions, lifestyles, colours, mindsets – all make up people. When gathered, they produce a ‘social pollination’ of ideas, and from this ‘collaborative emergence’ new ideas are born. Polarity exists among all of them. As a leader you have to let people mingle in any combination.
3. Ensure that you elicited a powerful problem to be inventively solved by the employees, triggering lots of self-motivation. (MANY DIRECTIONS, SAME traffic rules)
If setting up and contributing to an innovative organizational culture is the feminine side of the innovation leadership framework, then setting up the margins and behaviours of this culture is the masculine side. From this perspective, business creativity and innovation is a set of procedures helping innovation spark within your company. It is the overarching vision accompanying it, and pulling and pushing the creativity in and out of employees’ minds and hearts.
The whole evolution of this species of ours is a process of creativity: small adaptations to the environment and then disruptive sparks of collective movements to higher planes of consciousness triggered by the ‘Who Am I?’ dilemma.
Business creativity and innovation are sparked when there is a business framework defined by a strong overarching vision of a problem, dilemma or focus, which employees are interested in solving. The polarity here is between the pitiful reality and the higher realm that might be reached. A leader has to transform himself and embrace his polar nature, masculine and feminine, and create a compelling humanistic vision for the people he leads.