In order to compete effectively, we must look for new and better ways to accomplish our mission. We must find creative methods to delight our customers. And we must find innovative strategies for getting more done with fewer resources.
With things changing as quickly as they are, doing things the old way will not be profitable for very long. To grow, we must be constantly innovating.
And an innovative company contracts and keeps better employees. People want to be part of something creative. It's stimulating and it's fun.
Here are 10 things you can do to foster a culture of innovation and creativity.
1. Live in the possibility. Know that every problem has many possible solutions. Stand in the belief that you and your team can find a better way to do anything you put your minds to. Practice CANI-Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.
2. Always question what you do and why you do it. All too often tasks and projects creep into our processes that are not necessarily in keeping with our mission and purpose. Make sure everything you do is in alignment and produces the results intended.
3. Challenge long-held beliefs. Just because something's always been done a certain way does not mean that it's still the best way. As Anthony D'Angelo said, "Just because something is tradition does not make it right."
4. Do not accept the first solution right away. There are many possible solutions to every problem. Most people go with the first plausible one that comes up, and they miss the value of thinking longer and finding more effective and elegant answers.
5. Read. You can not learn less. The more you know about something, the more you find that you DO NOT know. By adding to your knowledge base, you find more and more associations. And making associations is where seemingly magical things happen.
6. Have fun. Coming up with ideas on how to do things faster, easier, with fewer resources really is fun. And things that are fun to do get done more often. Schedule regular brainstorming sessions and practice green-light thinking. Order pizza for lunch and focus on a problem or process and generate as many ideas as you can.
7. Get around people in different industries. By stepping out of your familiar territory, you open the door to new and different viewpoints you can use to your advantage.
8. Challenge your team to look deeper. When Henry Ford asked his engineers to design the V-8 engine, they said it could not be done. He said it WILL be done-and ever, they did it.
9. Make sure you have adequate "moodling" time-time to do nothing. When we're constantly engaged in DOING things, we do not provide the fertile ground for ideas to take root.
10. Charge your subconscious. Give your mind something to work on while you sleep. Select a problem you want solved, a process you would like improved or a new product you would like to create before going to bed and then forget about it. Tell yourself you want at least three elegant ideas by the next day and then expect to receive them. Trust me, it works.