As so much in our lives has shifted over the past several months – and continues to do so – I know many people who may be feeling a bit tapped out on change. I even wrote a blog post about how to support adaptability in the face of constant transformation!
Still, we know that to be successful as organizations move forward, leaders and employees must do more than simply navigate change. They also need to think ahead, consider what’s happening around the corner as well as work with innovation and agility in mind. In fact, 84% of executives believe that innovation is important to their growth strategy and future success.
When your team members have been in a state of hyper-change, it may be hard to motivate them to seek out yet another “new way” of working. If you feel like your team’s (or your own) creative energies are depleted, there are ways that you can inspire yourself to focus on continual improvement, agile iterations and innovation.
Consider the tactics below to cultivate a team or organizational environment that promotes creativity and agility.
1. Harness the power of cognitive diversity.
Cognitive diversity, or having multiple viewpoints represented, allows you to escape groupthink and solve problems faster and more effectively. It also helps you to drive ingenuity without feeling like you have to do all of the legwork yourself!
To kick start creativity, take stock of your team’s Thinking and Behavioral preferences with a personality assessment like the Emergenetics® Profile. If you notice that a certain Attribute is underrepresented in your group, invite other staff members with preferences in that Attribute into your discussions. Doing so ensures all perspectives have a seat at the table and share their brilliant insights to improve your approach to work.
2. Practice creativity.
While it may sound strange, innovation is a habit. Depending on your preferences, different approaches may be more inspiring for your imagination. Encourage team members to engage in some of the following activities on a weekly basis to see what resonates and helps spark their creativity:
- Going for a walk
- Engaging in arts and crafts
- Changing their scenery
3. Schedule the brainstorm.
Many of your colleagues may want to prepare their thoughts in advance of a discussion where they will be asked to iterate on a process or concept. By notifying team members ahead of time that you’ll be seeking out their ideas, you can give all employees an opportunity to bring their best thinking. You can also ask them to complete any relevant pre-work to help inform the discussion or identify solutions.
4. Borrow brilliance!
Creativity doesn’t need to come from a vacuum. You can borrow ideas from others and improve upon them with the unique strengths of your organization. Encourage team members to regularly check up on the competition, attend events, connect with friends and learn about best practices from other companies and peers.
5. Encourage questioning.
Questions are a brilliant way to spark innovations and small iterations. By proactively asking team members to question their work, including the why, what, how, who and what if, you can surface potential roadblocks and opportunities within existing processes or bring to light new ideas, which can lead you onto the next brilliant innovation.
6. Say something a little “out there.”
We can all fall victim to self-editing, and it’s important to bring unique, even “odd” ideas to the table. Even if the concept isn’t ultimately acted on, different perspectives and thoughts provide value in the pursuit of innovation and continuous improvement. To help your team members open up, try being the first one to share an unusual idea.
7. Ask “How might we…”
While that advice is not new, it’s still relevant. When you ask your team members, “How might we…,” rather than “How should we…” or “How can we…” or “How would you…,” you open up new pathways to imagination.
I think it also appeals brilliantly to the Assertiveness Attribute – as those in the third-third will tell you directly what they think, while those in the first-third may find this phrase more inviting as an opportunity, a possible path forward or a starting point to build toward consensus.
8. Encourage all ideas – apply guardrails later.
Remember that in ideation all concepts are welcome. Invite people to share without judgment and provide encouragement for all ideas so that staff feel engaged and supported. Keep brainstorming until all thoughts are on the table.
When you need to start defining your path forward, you can identify criteria and limits to help select an option. If employees continue to have ideas for improvement, provide them with a way to share those concepts for future consideration.
9. Reward originality.
Consider how you can recognize and celebrate the innovative ideas of your staff. You can try public shoutouts, sending a congratulatory email or use other benefits such as prizes, financial incentives, vacation time or awarding greater responsibility like leadership over the project they ideated.
10. Celebrate failure.
It’s not uncommon for individuals to hold on to tried and true methods of working because they don’t want to make a mistake. If you can create a culture that celebrates learning from failures, your team members will be more willing to take a creative leap. Consider how you might incorporate the following:
- Ask team members to reflect on a weekly learning
- Encourage team members to share a monthly mistake with you in a one-on-one meeting (share your own as well!)
- Create a digital or physical “Failed Ideas Hall of Fame” – once team members feel a little more comfortable with the concept
- Develop a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) tied to risk taking
As organizations experience change at gradual and rapid pace, companies will find themselves in a better position to succeed if they commit to practices that encourage creativity and agility among their team members. By embracing risks as learning experiences, utilizing cognitive diversity and incorporating tactics designed to spark continuous improvement, you can help your staff innovate even in the face of change fatigue.
Discover more ways to help your team navigate unfamiliar times and learn to thrive in the “new normal” together. Learn more about our virtual trainings or fill out the form below to connect with a team member today.
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