Cultivating Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace

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    Cultivating Innovation and Creativity in the Workplace

    Sections of This Topic Include

    About Innovation
    Leading Innovation
    Linking Innovation in Operations
    Perspectives on Innovation
    Perspectives on Creativity

    Also consider
    Creative
    Thinking

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    About Innovation

    Creativity is the nature of creating something new, either a new idea, concept
    or method. Innovation is using creativity to enhance performance of a process,
    person, team or organization.

    Businesses, for-profit and nonprofit, are facing change like never before.
    Numerous driving forces to this change included a rapidly expanding marketplace
    (globalization), and increasing competition, diversity among consumers, and
    availability to new forms of technology. Innovation and creativity are often
    key to the success of a business, particularly when strategizing during strategic
    planning, and when designing new products and services. Creative thinking and
    innovation are particularly useful during Strategic Planning (when strategizing) and in Product Development (when designing new products and services.)
    (The library includes many areas of information related to creativity. See Creativity.) Also consider numerous creative methods for
    solving problems
    and making decisions
    .)

    Leading Innovation

    © Copyright Carol
    Muse

    Innovation is a hot topic these days. From what I have seen, organizations
    have been outsourcing innovation for the last 10-15 years. It began with a reliance
    on ad agencies and then shifted to “design” companies like IDEO
    and JUMP. Now the business airwaves and media announce the need for more innovation,
    faster and more radical than ever before, and the literature of full of “how
    to innovate” books and articles.

    It seems easy to say we want to innovate, but it feels like going over Niagara
    Falls in a barrel, you are leaving all you know behind for a visit to Chaos.
    Confronted by all the mystery and disorder that precedes innovation, our challenge
    as leaders is to help people make meaning of the journey. As Dee Hock describes,
    “Making good judgments and acting wisely when one has complete data, facts,
    and knowledge [control] is not leadership. It’s not even management. It’s
    bookkeeping. Leadership is the ability to make wise decisions, and act responsibly
    upon them when one has little more than a clear sense of direction and proper
    values; that is, a perception of how things ought to be, an understanding how
    they are, and some indication of the prevalent forces driving change.”
    In this sense, innovation is the end product of a disruptive cycle of Adaptive
    Change.

    To innovate is to intentionally let go of the “way things are”
    and welcome “the way they could be.” Breakdown is the first step
    toward innovation, an intentional release of established habits of thought,
    expectations, assumptions, and beliefs in order to embrace “not knowing”.
    The concept of surfing the “edge of chaos” sounds exciting until
    you get there and leave control at the door. In Adaptive Change we call this
    the Fall.

    Fortunately, Breakdown doesn’t last. As we confront the mess, we naturally
    make meaning of it, allowing order and Breakthroughs to emerge – the “ah-ha”
    moments that we love to experience. The journey from Breakdown to Breakthrough,
    the Cauldron of Change, is a period of stress (high enough to motivate and mobilize,
    and potentially immobilize), uncertainty, and unpredictability. There is no
    clear way forward, we are reduced to trial-and-error experimentation. This is
    a period that requires a rapid and straightforward learning cycle, one that
    encourages experimentation and taking smart risks as you learn your way forward.
    Sense-Test-Adapt, a biomimetic cycle that is just what it says, propels you
    forward as order emerges from the chaos. The faster you cycle the faster you
    learn.

    Breakthroughs get you out of Chaos and into Complexity – you are half
    way home but you are still not “in control”. Complexity requires
    Imagination, which takes you beyond creativity and taps into mystery. Mystery
    allows us to explore “things in our environment that excite our curiosity
    but elude our understanding.[1] In the complex domain hunches and ah-has pull
    us forward by removing extraneous information and linking up ideas to form a
    system of inquiry. In this way novelty is morphed into a myriad of possibilities.

    With all these possibilities we begin to follow our hunches to their logical
    conclusions, picking one or two and applying all our knowledge, know-how, technology,
    etc. to understand them. In this way we make the imagined “real”,
    manifest as products, programs, services, and art. Making “manifest”
    is the phase I call Innovation. Innovation without the journey through chaos
    and mystery is evolutionary at best, incremental most often. Innovation as the
    conclusion of the full cycle is revolutionary, tapping into our most creative
    spaces and pulling forth something remarkably different from where we started.
    Do’s for leading innovation

    Foster an environment of imagination, exploration, acceptable risk, and “what
    ifs.” Meet the Devil’s Advocate at the door and refuse them entry.
    Give people time to think, toys to spark off, and diverse partners to play with.
    The resource needs and costs of Innovation rise over time. Resources that drive
    early innovation, Breakdown, Breakthrough, and Imagination, are mainly emotional
    and psychological support. No leader can afford to ignore these intangible costs
    for the foreseeable future.

    Relax when things seem out-of-control, it is part of the process and can’t
    be skipped. Focus people on moving their “crazy ideas” forward and
    making sense of them.
    Apply the innovation cycle to your leadership development…hummm, now that’s
    a thought!

    Linking Innovation and Operations

    © Copyright Jim Smith

    Development is hard pressed to interface with operations. Yet it is extremely
    important that this interface be workable because developments are not relevant
    until they find their way into operations. This is the “reason for being”
    of development; to have new systems and adaptive processes and structures integrated,
    in the long run, to foster organizational performance and adaptation.

    What’s The Difference?

    An operation is charted to preserve the status quo, the current thinking and
    methods. Operations assumes this status quo as a “given” and works
    within current procedures to improve them and “operationalize” them
    with a high degree of efficiency. In most operations the problem is clear and
    solutions are knowable. Fast response is an overriding value in executing a
    “fix” and getting the operation back on-line.

    Development, on the other hand is a constructive conspiracy. It is the development
    function, who’s job it is to replace the current ways of doing things,
    with new tools and assumptions more in line with changing business and organizational
    conditions. Development is rife with ambiguity; it is a searching and learning
    process. The overriding value is gaining commitment to change.

    Innovation and Development is fragile, complex and conceptual. Nothing kills
    it faster than premature exploitation- rushing to capitalize on it too soon.
    Development is not charted but it is navigable, it is a learned activity in
    action where hunches are tested and theory is developed in the process of action.
    The context of development is uncertainty. Operations on the other hand, works
    to reduce uncertainty to a program, an operational term.

    Learning It While Doing It

    Operations are based in control. Developments emerge and are always subject
    to un- intended consequences in action as development is moved toward its purpose.
    One of the themes of these essays is that developments are realized through
    the process of development, it is in effect learned in the process of doing
    it.

    Usually there is not a great deal of organizational understanding and support
    for doing this. An often operation does not see the need or understand the purpose
    of the development itself. For this reason, development needs protection at
    a certain stage. Protection and understanding go hand in hand. As the development
    is understood the protection can be loosened which is necessary to gain the
    institutional support for prioritizing the resources for more disciplined development.

    Boundary management means the protection and support of a differentiated development
    culture and the managed change of this culture when appropriate. Boundary management
    is a continual effort of judgment and balance because technical organizations
    optimize performance and their activities are always influenced by demands and
    feedback from a variety of sources in the global environment. Establishing and
    managing boundaries is both necessary and problematic.

    Perspectives on Innovation

    Recommended Articles

    A Process for Continuous Innovation and Controlled Chaos
    Three
    Questions that Will Kill Innovation

    The
    Number One Key to Innovation — Scarcity

    What is Innovation? 15 Experts Share Their Innovation Definitions

    Additional Articles

    Eight
    Communication Traps That Foil Innovation

    The Global
    Innovation 1000: How the Top Innovators Keep Winning

    Building
    Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization

    The Number One Key to Innovation: Scarcity
    How
    to Sell an Idea to Your Boss

    How
    to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept Adopted

    The
    Next Big Thing in Managing Innovation

    Dimensions
    of Social Innovation

    Can a Big Company Innovate Like a Start-Up?
    What’s Wrong With How We Innovate?
    Finding Innovation in the Flattened Organization
    Innovate like a Kindergartner
    A Quirky Way of Innovating
    Delivering Your Innovative Ideas
    How to Execute Great Ideas
    Three Questions that Will Kill Innovation
    Social
    Networks Will Change Product Innovation

    Leading Innovation
    Defining, Accepting and Training “Innovation,” Part One
    Defining, Accepting and Training “Innovation,” Part Two
    Will Machines Always Make Life Easier?

    Perspectives on Creativity

    Tunnel Vision Will Get You Nowhere
    Creativity and the Role of the Leader
    The Three Threats to Creativity
    The
    Creative Leadership No-Brainer, Part I

    The
    Creative Leadership No-Brainer, Part II

    Battling for Creative Solutions
    Unlocking Creative Potential – A Neuroscience Approach, Part I
    Unlocking Creative Potential – A Neuroscience Approach, Part II
    Unlocking Creative Potential – A Neuroscience Approach, Part III


    For the Category of Innovation:

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