Last week, we introduced what creativity and innovation (C & I) are in business, their benefits, scope and who should be involved in ideas generation. Success is dependent on the ability of an entrepreneur and their business to be creative and innovative in delivering value. Today, we will take up some of the ways you can develop, encourage, and make C & I permeate as a business culture in your system.
There are three elements of C & I, viz: people, systems, rewards and incentivisation. Each of these need to be incorporated into a whole that makes it possible, easy, and beneficial to be creative and innovative.
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People Elements: Your people are the most important resource you have. We assume here that you have been diligent in your staff engagement processes to get the best people that you need. But beyond getting the best people, you will also need to keep them results-driven, focussed and committed to coming up with brilliant and workable ideas that will put and keep your business ahead. This will require that you train them to understand, appreciate and be excited being creative and innovative. Expose your people to the wide scope of creativity to innovation in the various ways that can add value to your operations.
Systemic Elements: The system you create must be not only be receptive to but also encourage acts of creativity and innovation by your people. Train your people and make it easy for them to be alert, observant, curious, and thoughtful. Suggestions, no matter how ‘ridiculous’ should be listened to and only killed on the basis of superior arguments.
Incentivisation Factors: To succeed in business, you need a continuous flow of ideas. Out of several ideas, many might either not be workable, and as many others might not deliver the results expected. But if just a few ideas, depending on their profundity, add value as expected, they can significantly enhance the fortunes of an organisation. People can be motivated to act in desirable ways by doing the right things. The Apples, Samsungs, General Electrics, etc. of this world are only as successful as they are able to keep ahead of their competitors through continuous C & I.
Incentivise the efforts, not results, of your people to come up with creative and innovative ideas. It is important to encourage the efforts which should be rewarded in wise ways whilst also rewarding the results that is ultimately achieved.
Specifically, there are several ways of coming up with ideas in a business organisation. These include, but are, obviously, not limited to:
Seek continuous improvement: Everyone in your organisation must continuously be hungry for new ideas to improve systems, processes, products, experiences, etc. It is about always asking questions, turning things and ideas on their head. Just never be satisfied with what you have.
Encourage individuality: Each person is different and unique. Some perform best in the mornings whilst others are nighthawks. Some like to be alone at their best moments whilst others like to be with others. Within the limits of legitimacy and operationality, encourage whatever it is that brings out the best of your people.
Encourage teamwork: Even as individuals are encouraged and allowed to come out with their best in the ways that best works for them, they, however, must respect the spirit of working together with others. Often, our ideas will only be complete by sounding it out to others who can help refine it.
Create silent spaces: We have earlier recognised that some people come up with their best in what others would consider rowdy situations. However, there are others who need silence to process, articulate and put their thoughts together. Create a silent space where people that need to can go think through their ideas. Others might like to take a walk perhaps to a nearby coffee shop where they will be alone or with a colleague. Allow them! The point is let people be able to detect their best creative moments and seize them.
Reward out-of-the-box thinking: Positive reinforcement is quite often a good way to encourage desired behaviours. Rewarding people to motivate them further is often cheaper than we think of it. Sometimes it is a gift from the boss who just returned from a foreign trip that will do the trick. It could be a corporate gift that means something to the staff. It could also be a public commendation or formal letter of appreciation. What is important is that you understand your people and come up with what they value.
Conduct stand-up meetings: Our energy levels are different between when we are seated and when we are standing. Some short meetings can be conducted when people are standing. The enthusiasm soars in such situations and the thinking process of people is facilitated. The ability of people to ‘think on their feet’ helps them solve problems faster in other situations.
Observe nature: As brilliant as we may be, we are great copycats from what is naturally abundant around us. For instance, aeronautical engineers look to nature for inspiration on new ways to make aircrafts lighters and more fuel efficient. So do marine engineers in developing and improving the capacities of ships and submarines. These opportunities of stealing ideas from nature are available in most fields of business and life.
Challenge yourself and your team: The tendency is always for us to take things easy. We cannot be creative or innovative by taking things easy. To avoid complacency and resting on our oars, we should always consciously challenge ourselves into coming up with both mild, at least, and radical changes, preferably, in what we do and how we do them.
Creativity and innovation are fundamental to renewal, growth and success of every business. The entrepreneur must engender and sustain the two activities if they are to be able to do things differently and better than competition. Next week, we will take up Branding.