Today's workplaces are as challenging as today's business environments, with competitors fighting tooth and nail to get ahead.
There are a few well-recognised, acknowledged tools of success in business, but one of the most important is innovation – the company that fails to innovate is setting itself up for disaster, no matter how successful it is.
In our rapidly changing business environment everyone is looking for ways to become more effective in their thinking. An important way to promote effective thinking at the office is to foster a creative work environment.
If you want to come up with a new idea that will boost your career, delight your company's customers, and rake in huge profits, you need to learn the secrets of successful innovation.
Read on for the best ways to create an innovative work culture.
Think outside the box Managers often ask employees for ways to improve the company, whether it is coming up with ideas on what to sell, how to better position themselves in the marketplace or what to do about falling profits.
Jim Carroll, author of What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation, says: "Creativity is a precious resource. The ideas, thoughts and initiatives of those who surround you can be your most potent weapon."
Do not focus on the negativity of change. Instead, think about what can be done. New business models, markets, ways of working, skills access, everywhere you look, opportunity abounds. Shift your perspective and things can easily fall into place.
Be ready for change The pace of evolution of knowledge is now so quick that entire careers and industries are changing faster than ever before. And in order for companies to benefit employers have to accept that fact.
To remain competitive, businesses must effectively use their most valuable resource: brainpower.
"Any organisation that can harness the limitless potential of their people's creativity is powerful and unstoppable," says Michelle Mink from TunderBolt Thinking in the United States.
She adds: "By building an innovative workplace, managers, team leaders, and executives can learn what it takes to promote innovation, and how to build an environment that sustains it."
Brainstorm ideas Brainstorming can be an effective way to generate lots of ideas on a specific issue and then determine which idea – or ideas – is the best solution. Brainstorming is most effective with groups of eight to 12 people and should be performed in a relaxed environment. If participants feel free to relax and joke around, they will stretch their minds and, therefore, produce more creative ideas, says Jeffrey Baumgartner, a creative solutions manager.
Whether you are starting with too much information or not enough, brainstorming can help you to put a new writing task in motion or revive a project that has not reached completion.
"Start by freewriting, let your thoughts flow as they will, put pen to paper and write down whatever comes into mind," says Baumgartner.
Get in the right state of mind We all have some level of creativity within us and as with other activities, you can teach yourself to be more creative. Sometimes creative thinking requires us to look at things from new perspectives.
Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90 per cent are daft. What is important are the 10 per cent that are brilliant.
Exercise the brain by reading, talking to clever people and disagreeing with people – arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout.
Plan ahead Innovation is about constantly evolving and making solutions that are better than previous versions. If you do not do it, you can bet that someone else will. You have innovated on your job, but you have also taken the game up a notch. Competitors will no doubt up the ante of their game, too.
- Take time just to doodle; see what happens
- Call a daily break, take time out to laugh with colleagues
- Experiment. Try doing something different every day
- Remember creativity is an attitude that demands you manage your thinking
- Recognise others and reward their ideas