Workplace innovation may not win you an Oscar but there’s no denying the competitive advantage creativity brings. Luckily, a leader’s job isn’t to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment that allows innovation to flourish. Award-winning leaders constantly nurture, not stifle, creative sparks.
1. Bust the innovation myths.
People are not born creative gurus and innovation isn’t just about market-changing products. Small, everyday continuous improvements are equally important. Reframe exactly what you mean by innovation to build your team’s confidence in their ability.
2. Use the 1% rule.
Encourage people to be just 1% braver or more ambitious in whatever they do. The cumulative effect will be vast.
3. Question everything.
Role model curiosity by increasing your ratio of questions to answers. Challenge conventions and ask ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why?’ to get everyone looking out for all possibilities.
4. Champion experimentation.
Implement mini pilots and encourage your team to test things quickly. Publicly reward people for challenging the status quo. Even if the result isn’t a success, emphasize what you’ve learnt from the experience.
5. Encourage exploration.
Ask people to watch the world around them and learn from their customers, suppliers and competitors. Connect your team with people from diverse backgrounds – different perspectives foster divergent thinking.