Most leaders want to lead an innovative organization.
If you are like me, you don’t necessarily have to be the first to do something new, but you don’t want to be years behind either. We want to be “cutting edge” to some degree. Certainly, we don’t want to be stuck in the last decade.
But as leaders, we can’t force innovation.
We can’t mandate our people to be innovative. And the longer people haven’t been innovative, the the more difficult it is to get them innovating again.
Innovation, in its purest form means change. Change can be forced upon people, but the best changes come from the heart of a person.
Great innovation comes from the gut.
There are things leaders can do to encourage team members to be more innovative.
Here are a 7 easy ways to encourage innovation:
Get away from the office as a team.
There is something about a change in surroundings which encourages changes in thought. Creative thoughts are often fueled better outside your normal environment.
We have held brainstorming retreats at other churches in our area and local businesses. Again, the change of place often fuels a change of thought.
Have a brainstorming session with open-ended questions.
Questions can be gold for fueling ideas and creativity. Ask questions such as, “What are we doing well?” “Where could we improve?” “What should we stop doing?”
Be sure to welcome diversity of thought. Create an environment where innovation and outside-the-box thinking is acceptable.
Reward new ideas.
Recognize new thoughts and celebrate the success of innovation and people will want more of it. Make it a part of the DNA to elevate the value of innovation.
Make sure to build time to dream into your schedule as a leader. Teams I lead learn soon that when I travel I return with some fresh perspective – even some wild ideas.
Have times together as a team that are simply fun.
Something magical happens when you get people who work together out of the work zone and into a fun zone. They often still talk work – it’s what they share in common – but they share work in a more innovative and productive way.
Remove obstacles to innovative thought.
There are always communication barriers between team members and senior leadership. Discovering and eliminating them could be an innovation waterfall.
One way is to get in the room and have a real problem which needs to be solved and not already have the answers. Let the answers emerge. People love to solve a problem.
Invite new (different) people to the table.
It could be different people on the team or people from the community, but new people equals new ideas. And make sure they are people who may not look like the rest of the team. We’ve often brought staff spouses to the table to fuel our thoughts. The idea here is to glean from other voices.
Set innovation timeline goals.
If you want to eventually build a new website, for example, put a date on the calendar for when it MUST be completed. It’s amazing how creative we often become under a deadline.
What are some ideas you have to encourage innovation?