Sunday, June 24, 2012

Innovation: Fostering Creativity in the Workplace

How do you foster innovative culture within your company? Everyone wants to know the answer to this question. During the iKC discussion, “Creativity Survival Skills: Innovation in a Large Ecosystem”, five panelists from Sprint, BATS, MRIGlobal and Hallmark discussed this question, along with many other hot topics.

Innovation. What exactly does this word mean? Author Dr. Michael E. Raynor says everyone has his or her own definition for innovation. One panelist said innovation was “disciplined creativity”. Anyone can have ideas, but if you’re not disciplined, you won’t be able to execute them. Ideas will just stay ideas. How do you get your employees to think creatively? Many companies, like Hallmark, push their employees to do activities outside their skill sets. Herb Sih of Think Big Partners encourages his employees to do things they’re passionate about, beyond the typical work day. Each panelist agreed that it’s necessary for companies to have an open environment so employees can share their ideas. Demolish the “road blocks” put in place and educate your staff so they know the correct channels to go through to get their ideas heard.

The biggest thing I learned during this session is that creativity is crucial for innovation to blossom. Some other things I learned during this discussion are:
  • Find the “right” people for your company. Even if there’s not a position available for them, don’t be afraid to make one! Having the right employees can make or break your innovative environment.
  • Feedback is crucial. If you don’t give your employees feedback on their ideas, they won’t understand what you want from them. They might keep bringing the same thing to the table.
  • Innovation is a journey. Sometimes the idea is good but the timing isn’t. There may be an incubation period for ideas, but that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t great.

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