How to encourage innovation

I hear and read it everywhere, you have to be innovative to make it in our fast-paced and ever accelerating society. But what promotes innovation? And how can I establish an environment in which people can be creative?

There are countless studies and examples on how to become or be more innovative. What I am writing about is therefore just a glimpse in the topic and not at all exhaustive.

I think it makes sense to pose the question: What do I need to be creative?

For me, different points of view and ideas are at least as conducive to being creative as is a stimulating work environment. With that I mean a modern office, time to spend times on side projects or the opportunity to try out ideas. As you can see, I can’t be creative in a complete vacuum. I need stimuli. Sure, I also like to sit down on my own and come up with ideas, but there is always a process that leads to that state and there is always a process that follows.

And a big factor for me is to feel safe. But don’t they say that in order to be creative and innovative you have to take risks? Yes. I speak about a different kind of safety. The safety I am talking about results from a certain culture and how this culture deals with mistakes or failures. I think that little is as detrimental to being creative as a culture in which mistakes and failures are punished and frowned upon. In contrast, when it is allowed or even encouraged to make mistakes, I feel that my innate curiosity can perform at its best and help me to come up with new ideas and concepts.

For me, a wonderful example I heard about is that of Google. Maybe you heard about their goal to bring the internet to people all over the world, no matter how remotely they live. In the documentary, they also spoke about their way to handle mistakes. What they did is to turn the “normal” way of doing things on its head. Here, people will be rewarded and even promoted, if they kill a project. The faster they find something that kills the project the better. This changes the perception of a failure. Now, it is seen as something good, because finding it will save a lot of time and resources.

I also think that it supports a more sustainable end-product. When you constantly try to find things to prevent this product from being produced or implemented, the risk of having a bad outcome is rather low. It also helps to detach yourself from the idea. I also find it difficult to let go of an idea, especially, if I put a lot of time and effort and heart into it. But it is this attachment to our own ideas which often makes us blind towards reality.

I wish, that we are capable to rethink the standard way of dealing with mistakes and failures. I think that a little change in perspective will not only lead to more innovative products and services, but also to a happier and more creative workforce.

What do you think about this? Have you heard of other approaches? Let me know.


Take care =)

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