Constructive Creativity & Innovation
Over the past few years, it has become clear that ongoing innovation and creativity can increase a company’s competitive advantage, bring focus to the customer experience, and even increase employee retention, as satisfaction soars. But what is the key to nurturing a truly innovative and create environment that produces bottom-line results? Here are some elements that are associated with highly creative team.
Environment: Many people do not consider themselves to be very creative. They may even be reluctant to participate in innovation and creative thought exercises. Help these team members build their confidence by ensuring that innovation and creative problem-solving are part of the fabric of their everyday work life.
A relatively low-effort way to do this is to post descriptions of dilemmas and challenges that groups are experiencing on an internal message board. Encourage everyone on the team to take 10 minutes each day to read through the challenges. Urge them to add questions about the challenge that helps clarify it, or suggestions and references, that may help solve the problem. Even if they are reluctant to add their own challenges at first, keeping the focus on defining, iterating, and solving problems will help accustom the team to important innovation and creativity skills.
Build Creativity Muscle: Someone who wishes to become a runner will not succeed by only doing bench presses. Whether you wish to become a marathoner, or compete in the Highland Games, there are specific exercise programs and routines that will help you work the muscles needed to meet your goals. Creativity is like a muscle. The more we exercise our creativity, the stronger it becomes. But we must walk before we run!
There are six (6) elements, or phases, that are key to innovation & creativity.
1. Problem definition
2. Ideation of solutions
3. Selection of most feasible solution(s)
4. Resource definition
5. Development & testing
6. Impact assessment & iteration
Frequently, creativity and innovation exercises fail due to ill-defined or incorrect problem statements. Starting every planning session, meeting, and/or project debrief with a simple question: ’What is the single most important questions we should be asking here/at this time?’ (and allowing discussion about it), helps to train the team’s ‘problem definition muscle’; to think in terms of expected results and priorities.
Conversation: Creativity and innovation flourish where meaningful discussion and disagreement are embraced and encouraged. Throughout the organization, managers can enhance their team’s problem-solving ability by fostering an environment that challenges the status quo and celebrates discussing ‘difficult topics’. For creativity to truly flourish, meaningful conversation – and the openness to challenge boundaries – must become embedded in the day-to-day life of the organisation.
Activation Phrases: Leaders can use specific phrases such as ‘time to get creative!’ or ‘what’s the most over-the-top idea we can come up with?’ to signal that it is time to think outside of the box… without negative repercussions. It is important to design activation phrases that work for your environment… and use them consistently. Take time to design phrases that signal your expectations and take into consideration any boundaries that exist.
Leverage Diversity: The reality is that different people have different strengths and natural dispositions. The Hogan Assessment measures several dimensions related to creativity and innovation. Of course, Inquisitiveness (HPI) and Imagination (HDS) are main indicators of strength in this area, but scores in Recognition (MVPI), Altruistic (MVPI), Reserved (HDS) and/or Prudent (HPI), for example, can influence whether it is easier or more difficult to engage a person in the creative process – especially if they deviate from the team’s norm.
Understanding the building blocks of innovation & creativity, along with your team’s individual profiles, allows you to set your team up for constructive creativity and innovation success. But, like any skill worth developing, it takes focus, structure, and a bit of time and tenaciousness.
This article is part of a series that focus on psychometric assessment as an integral component of building a team’s self-awareness. For more information about Hogan Assessments and other awareness-building tools & training, contact firstname.lastname@example.org