CREATIVITY, NEW EXCITEMENT
We all know about open-door policies and the importance of sharing information. New ideas come from information. But how many of us really know how to put these practices in place? If you'd like more dialogue and creativity at your organization, if you've ever struggled to get your message out or grab people's attention, here are some things for you to consider.
Knowledge knows no borders, says Margareta Barchan, the CEO of a successful Swedish organization. And in a sense, knowledge and creativity cannot truly be managed. But it can be "captured and converted into an asset in the form of systems, processes, templates, data banks, and more," says Barchan. It then can be used to improve service, performance and create profits.
To reap these benefits, however, leaders must create an environment that nurtures continuous learning. She outlines five conditions necessary to foster learning:
- » Open dialogue. Employees should feel free to contribute ideas and make recommendations. Value employee creativity!
- » Values. A solid base of values should help shape the company and its culture. Embracing the values provides consistency, trust, and camaraderie.
- » Sharing. Create an open atmosphere where sharing knowledge occurs spontaneously and is a part of the culture.
- » Trust. Being trusted imparts feelings of inspiration, creativity, motivation, and job satisfaction. If you want inspired, creative, motivated, and happy workers, cultivate an atmosphere of trust.
- » The right people. The right people let you attract and retain customers. Look for people who willingly share knowledge, have the right skills, and match the organization's values and beliefs. The right people also include board members, suppliers, colleagues, and clients. They all possess valuable knowledge and ideas that can benefit your organization.
What do investment expert Warren Buffett, best-selling business author Stephen Covey, and Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker have in common with Albert Einstein? They all have experienced great failure despite their well-known successes. Buffett bought $358 million in losing stock; Covey, at one time, had such poor work habits that his career was in jeopardy; Becker spent years developing a theory that ended up completely worthless; and legend has it that Einstein flunked math. Nonetheless, each one of these individuals achieved extraordinary success.
The lesson to be learned: Even highly successful people fail, just like the rest of us. In fact, they welcome the chance to take risks, to fail, and to try again--and that's what sets them apart from others. Many of us lose confidence when something goes wrong, but geniuses don't waste time and energy blaming themselves. Nor do they worry about what others think of them. They know that innovative ideas are often criticized or laughed at, but they don't let such opposition stand in their way.
"I'm not always going to be right," says one high achiever. "And that's fine by me." So as we strive to gain a competitive edge in this global marketplace, let's not forget that mistakes and setbacks are inevitable. Just stand tall and don't let your feathers get ruffled!
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs
even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor
spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in
the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Investor's Business Daily, "Imaginatik Helping Companies Tap Into Their Employee's Ideas," J. Bonasia, August 11, 2005 (www.imaginatik.com).
RealBusiness, "Innovation Strategy: What To Do When The Ideas Dry Up," Maja Pawinska, September 2005 (www.realbusiness.co.uk).
Advanced Manufacturing, "Get Your Human Innovation Engine Firing On All Cylinders," John Sweeney, August 2005 (www.advancedmanufacturing.com).
The Globe and Mail, "Reward Employee Ideas...Literally," Rob Shaw, August 19, 2005 (www.theglobeandmail.com).
Business Week Online, "Gary Hamel's Idea Hatchery," Whitney Sparks, August 11, 2005 (www.businessweek.com).
High Performance Government, Structure, Leadership, Incentives, Robert Klitgaard & Paul Light, Rand Corporation, Arlington, VA 2005
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the
things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw
off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade
winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
IDEAS, WHERE DO YOU FIND THEM
Yesterday I came across a website that had what I thought was a really fantastic feature and my mind set to work as to how I might implement that feature on my own website.
Immediately I could see little ways of improving on the feature. As I did not have time to start work on it right then - it went on my to-do list but the idea is so good that it keeps flitting across my mind.
A few minutes ago I was in the bathroom drying after a shower - this is the 'workspace' where I frequently have my most creative thoughts. All I was doing was running the idea through my head for the umpteenth time, imaging how I might implement it, imaging how I would launch it, completely visualizing the final entity when all of a sudden the idea just transformed itself inside my head! It was still the same basic concept but in a flash it metamorphosed into something hugely more powerful.
The question is "What happened?" What caused the flip in my head - to see the idea a little differently and transform it? I don't know.
The funny thing is that a month ago when I did not have a broadband connection and was not permanently connected to the web I would have probably not realized the significance of the feature in the original website and so none of this would have happened. There is a lot to learn here about the birth of new ideas; their nurturing and evolution. It's triggered some interesting thinking. Maybe, I should take another shower!
Idea management -- the process of "operationalizing" innovation in corporate planning --increasingly is viewed as a key to survival of the 21st century corporation, and has spawned a new category of software that helps gather, filter, distribute and implement new ideas. The object is to speed up the innovation cycle, keeping you one step ahead of your competitors. Examples include Brightidea's On-Demand Innovation Management Suite, Imaginatik's Idea Central and BrainBank's Idealink. But in addition to idea management, a new set of emerging techniques are focusing on the invention side of innovation. Perhaps the most powerful of these is TRIZ (the Russian acronym for "Theory of Inventive Problem Solving"), which was invented by a Russian Naval officer who condensed his thoughts on invention to three insights: 1) Almost all technical problems can be reduced to one or more conflicts between two physical properties. 2) There are just a handful of solutions to these conflicts. 3) Most technologies work through the same series of conflicts in the same order. Some enthusiasts are saying TRIZ (commercially available as Invention Machine) could lead to the creation of strategic innovation pathways -- systems for planning innovations years ahead, and Breakthrough Management VP Michael Slocum predicts that the technique "will become as important in the management and analysis of innovation as Six Sigma has in quality control."
Lab Fosters Management Innovation
Management guru Gary Hamel is touting the benefits of "management innovation," one of the three forms of innovation that drive economic progress (the other two being institutional and technological innovation). Hamel is preparing to launch a Management Innovation Lab, housed at the London Business School: "It's essentially built upon a methodology on how companies can be as systematically innovative with management as they have been with business policies, intelligence, communications and planning. How do you think in radical new ways and test them? You have to create a laboratory." Hamel says to change the way management is currently practiced; the first thing to do is flatten the hierarchy: "I advocate a system in which executives have to re-earn their power, in which their ideas have to compete with everybody else's ideas." The lab will specialize in intensive, two-day "Management Innovation Jams," geared toward helping senior business leaders identify critical challenges that will shape competitive success over the next decade and beyond; understand the ways today's management practices may limit their ability to meet those challenges; stimulate thinking by learning about highly unconventional practices of vanguard organizations; and develop a specific agenda for management innovation within their own firms.
August 11, 2005
Innovation Is More Than Just Good Ideas
Edison protégée Samuel Insull is credited with reinventing the entire electricity industry in 1892 when he moved from New York to Chicago, built the first large-scale turbine, and devised a multi-tiered pricing strategy that rewarded homeowners with cheap rates and free wiring (to the consternation of his small-time competitors) in order to boost usage during the evening and early morning hours when his high-priced industrial customers were closed. Insull's pricing breakthrough was "the single most significant innovation in the single most important technological advance of the 20th century," wrote renowned journalist Sir Harold Evans. "Insull's essential act of innovation was to craft a coherent business strategy out of what, at the time, must have seemed a cacophony of contradictory technological, economic and market forces..." writes author Nicholas G. Carr. Carr notes that "the Insull story, in fact, plays out over and over again in business, and it's not hard to understand why. Coming up with a great new idea or even a new product is certainly a praiseworthy accomplishment -- the very cornerstone of a vibrant, entrepreneurial economy -- but it's usually only the first step in a long and complicated journey to business success." Peter Drucker explained the arduous journey this way: "For every dollar spent on generating an idea, ten dollars have to be spent on 'research' to convert it into a new discovery or a new invention. For every ten dollars spent on 'research,' at least a hundred dollars need to be spent on development, and for every hundred dollars spent on development, something between a thousand and ten thousand dollars is needed to produce and establish a new product or a new business on the market."
Strategy + Business Winter 2005
Some thoughts from a few Dreamers.......
Your articles fail to mention a dilemma that many of us face in the Forest Service. It is one of too many changes. So, many of these activities sap our creative energy. While we want more ideas during these stressful times, leadership need to understand the people are capable of handling only so many changes.
If you asked people around my unit to describe the perfect leader, here is what I think they would look for: someone who's honest, competent, inspirational, and forward thinking. Put those qualities together and what do you get? You get personal credibility. Most of us want to believe in our leaders. We want to trust their words and to know that they are personally enthusiastic about the Forest Service's direction and have the knowledge and skills to lead. I don't find a lot of enthusiasm about the current changes we are facing. If I don't trust and believe in the messenger, how can I trust the message? Without this trust, how can I ever be creative?
If you are interested in learning more about creativity or wish to share any experiences, please contact Karl Mettke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank You For Taking Time To Be Creative?