Targets and workstations have a purpose, they get the job done - the job that's making the money at the moment. But what about tomorrow, what about the other money you could be making and employing people with? True innovators know that the work is never done when it comes to designing a product and service. If something works well, it's easy to get complacent and just stick to what works. The thing is, in today's society, we're all becoming the designers and the innovators. A business model of the 21st century needs to constantly look out for the best ideas and innovations in order to improve what they do. If you follow a routine at work and you get your jobs done but you wish you could be more innovative and expressive about your ideas, you're not alone. Most people feel stifled in an environment that doesn't allow for a less regimented regime.
Here are some things that teams can do to loosen the mind and let the ideas flood out.
Learning information is valuable work time. Even if it's negative information. This means that ideas that don't work out the way they were expected to are not matters for discipline or wage cuts. They're learning experiences that if used properly will ensure the same road isn't taken again. It doesn't lead to where you wanted it to go. Knowing this is priceless to a business, so reward the acquisition of good information. The way we ensure our ideas don't waste resources and time, even if they fail, is to keep track of the method and rationale at every turn. Sometimes it's just one of the two that isn't right and sometimes it's both. We have to be able to isolate at every turn what works and what does not. So reward effort as much as results.
We have to enable the team to try out their ideas. By encouraging the team and re-assuring them that their ideas are valued, the team will be much more fluent in good ones. Protocols are in place because quality matters. It's not necessarily the protocol itself that matters but the result it gives. Every step is worth time and money to the business and it's often in this area that the innovation happens. If a person can invent a new and more efficient method of doing the same job which continues to ensure the same quality then time and money are saved. If, as well, a person sees how the method could produce another product or service without little change, that's another line of income for the team. More jobs, better equipment, and happier workers.
Allow risk. Risking everything is folly but risking something for a better thing is not. Especially when we've learned so much already and when even if we fail, the information is vital. Looking at everything in black and white terms is unhelpful, like the two previous points, failure is not a dirty word. We have to be prepared to experiment and try out our ideas. This all involves risk, and so we have to learn to be comfortable with this.
Change the scenery regularly. It's valuable time to take the team out to a park or museum once every few weeks. It's also good to go out for meals or drinks. By putting the same people in a new situation with less formal associations, the mind feels more able to produce handy ideas that may just be of use. When at work, we're often just on the job with our list of things to do and people to appease. This is an automatic mindset that knows it just wants to get through the day. It's actually really stressful and this drastically reduces the amount of energy our mind can put into the imagination.
Remember you are a team. We can spend our whole day in isolation with our computer and telephone. If everyone is working hard that might be the image you have. The thing is this is mechanical work that doesn't do anything for innovation, progress, and future services. Allowing the group to talk about the things that interest them and the events of their lives not only encourages bonding but also gives people ideas about what sort of things might be worth looking into. Naturally, a person who works somewhere every day will have an interest in the things the work involves. They'll likely pick up all manner of ideas and information from their home life.
In short, ease the pressure off, listen more, and remember to take notes.
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