QLeadership Series – Inspire innovative and creative thinking

When you find an organization that survives and thrives over time, it’s usually because managers like you have learned how to adapt to their changing circumstances and sometimes even keep ahead of the changes taking place around them. Managers who encourage creativity and innovative thinking among their people are natural-born motivators.

Start by addressing and eliminating any fears employees may have about creative thinking. Some people, for example, don’t think they’re capable of being creative. Others tend .to focus on areas of practicality, analyzing and judging ideas as quickly as they arise. Let your employees know that it’s time to lighten up and not to assume that something won’t work because nobody’s tried it. Have your employees suspend critical judgement when someone presents what may seem to be an off-the-wall or different kind of idea than what’s been proposed in the past. Have employees concentrate on how they can make new ideas work and not what’s wrong with   them.

Motivating managers pride themselves on providing a free and open environment that inspires employees to offer whatever   ideas and suggestions may occur to them-no matter how “impractical” they may seem at first, it is in this type of environment where employees will feel motivated to help the organisation (and themselves) succeed. Here are some ways to encourage creativity:

Think Big, think Virtual

Today, employee brainstorming can be done over long distances through the use of virtual meetings/virtual conference rooms. Virtual meetings are proliferating and can function just as effectively and synchronously over the internet as they can in the office conference room down the hall. Just think, it is now possible for your employees to hash out ideas with colleagues in the UK, get input from other team members in Burlington, Vermont, go over a game plan before a meeting with other employees in Honolulu, and kibitz with a new member of the team in Melbourne, Australia.

Use tools for creative and innovative thinking

Begin by setting aside time to brainstorm with employees and investigate innovative and creative new approaches and ideas. Not only should you support innovative thinking, but as• the manager, you should also help implement new ideas. Make books available to your employees on the subject of creativity, such as A whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech, Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko, or How to Think Like Einstein: Simple Ways to Break the Rules and Discover Your Hidden Genius, by Scott Thorpe. Through special announcements, newsletters, e-mails, and day-to-day conversations, praise the innovation of your team.

Emphasize positive aspects of innovative solutions

Continually emphasize the positive aspects of innovative solution finding and the disadvantages of always doing the same things in the same way. Refrain from penalizing anyone for trying something new that may end up a big mistake. Instead, encourage others to learn from their mistakes. It’s your responsibility to encourage freedom of expression and congratulate those who possess unique, one-of-a-kind creativity and out-of-the-box thinking skills.

“There is nothing that is a more certain sign of insanity than to do the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different.”

Albert Einstein

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