Innovation starts with creativity. Throwing ideas in and learning to select those which go to market. Learning to create the selection path. Learning to teach it to others. Learning to learn. Creativity is boundless, innovation draws its boundaries: technical, financial, market and trends, resources. Creativity helps pushing those boundaries further.
Throwing ideas in
It goes beyond brainstorming sessions, as Lisa Bodell from Strategy & Business suggests. There are tools and ideas that can take the debate further, what you need is the right skills and people to find the right type of questions, the right type of answers. They are not closed, definitive answers and plans. They participate to the debate on how to best drive to best results, they are part of a whole culture of productivity, as reminds KC EFEANYI from FastCompany. Throw yourself in as well, don’t hold back, engage a culture of innovation as suggests Soren Kaplan in following article: become intentional, give up control, allow yourself to step back, define your own meaning, informally recognize efforts (on top of formally) and talk with symbols. “Those who intentionally curate the innovation symbols of their companies essentially curate their innovation cultures”, the writer says.
Learning to select ideas to go to market
Creativity reflects in your story to market. So make it a good story. It starts with you, your belief, your confidence, as Tim McDonald explains in the Huffington Post: “We can start to become more productive and more creative through embracing ourselves for who we are”. If you are engaged in the strategy you roll out, your teams, your organisation, your customers will hear the full story and validate its sense. Or not. If not, then adapt your story, allow customers and partners in, work together on identifying the gaps. They may just as well be the sweet spot, the opportunity gap that will lead to breakthrough innovation as defined by Nate Hirshberg on Explore B2B. “Companies need to be set up to encourage, recognize, support, and implement great ideas if they want them to succeed in the market”, comments Annabel Kalmar from Business & Strategy.
Learning to create the selection path
Why should we assume all processes are always OK for everything forever and ever? Be honest, a lot can be improved to deliver a better story and product to your customers. After asking questions, re-assess known answers. As Norbert Haenhel from Business Model Innovation explains, rethink your business model by learning from others, competitors, partners, other industries. He suggests for example that you imagine your organisation led by another leader. How would processes, teamwork, organisation be different? Would they be better for you? Robert B Tucker from Innovation Excellence remarks, “winning firms are those that don’t get trapped into conventional wisdom. Their leaders make it job one to challenge assumptions. They take time regularly to rethink”.
Learning to teach it to others
“To sell your idea to executives, buyers, and users, you have to change not only what they think, but how they think. Without the right mental model, they won’t see the problem, understand the benefits, or make the change” writes Mark Bonchek on HBR Blog. He explains how understanding today’s picture to better answer tomorrow’s need by using transitioning plan can help shift mentalities to they accept change. Once the transition plan is defined, again, pitch the right story, become a “culture maker” and not a “culture breaker” as Mary Marshall explains for Project Eve. Focus on positive, don’t hide negative, but learn to turn downsides into constructive objectives, as Glenn Brooke suggests on ASmithBlog. Let people ask questions and answer them openly, using experience and knowledge sharing, as did Rundall Munroe in following article from The Economist. As a former NASA roboticist, he took on to answer his student’s question, whichever they may be, using his knowledge and the Internet, having fun, transmitting knowledge and fun.
Learning to learn
You will have to. First because technological changes will go faster, also because market conditions will affect the way we work, finally because your future job may even not exist yet. Contently talks about the “Hyphenates” when describing freelancers that need to learn five jobs at a time to thrive in business. Either we’ll end up all being freelancers, either we’ll need to create new organisations and business models. So “hyphenates” skills will be useful to all. Learning can also be favored by working environment, so people see, talk to each other, or take time to be at home and think in a quiet, familiar space. Greg Lindsay has listed a series of flexible working places that are being used to spur innovation and creativity as well as productivity. The list can be found here. Think of practising your passion, as M. McMillin explains in this article from Rebecca Greenfield. Find inspiration elsewhere and look at problems differently. Learn that even when doing uncreative and boring tasks, you develop your creativity as your spirit will fight to stimulate new ideas after he’s being asked to stand still and repetitive, as suggests David Burkus on HBR.
Many experts align on the idea that creativity can be taught. I’d argue it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Maybe it’s just about giving people the freedom to be and act like who they really are, not just like what we’d expect them to be. If organisations worked this way, no one would ever be surprised by how creative other people are. We’d all be creative. In fact, we all are.