Most companies set goals to employees such as productivity, quality and profit, and innovation is rarely set as a goal. Innovation is a term used to describe how companies create value by developing the knowledge, and use of existing knowledge in new ways. This term is often used to mean the development of new products and services, but organizations can be innovative in other ways, such as the development of business models, techniques, business management, employee benefits, organizational structure.
We live in an era where business is conducted under the influence of high entry changes in all areas. In such circumstances, innovation becomes a prerequisite for business success, and survival. That is why innovations are becoming one of most important subjects in business systems around the world, bound for all business segments and all parts of the organization. The question is which factors make an innovative organization?
A survey results from 2012 showed 14 major factors that enable the development of innovative culture in an organization. On the other side, which factors prevent innovation? Imagine the following situation: top management understands how important innovation is to succeed, employees understand how to innovate, and innovations occur in any part of the work. Besides all this, the degree of innovation in the company is low. I recently read a post by entrepreneur Glenn Elliot saying that been afraid of failure prevent us to be innovate because innovation, doing things that are new, is always risky and the whole point of innovation is that you don’t know exactly what will happen. So there are also personal considerations regarding innovation, however companies are the one that should encourage innovation, and stay out of the crowd.
Let see several key reasons that prevent innovation in organization.
First, since our childhood people around us are used phrases that discourage our creative thinking, such as “It works this way”, “I hate it,” “Shut up” or “do we need it?” “It works this way” indicates a resistance to change, “I hate it” demoralises, “Shut up” is an attack on a personal level to innovators, and “What it will do” are the words that discourages a person to try something new. Furthermore, standard tests such as SAT and ACT, which are used to evaluate the ability do not have included measures of creativity and do not promote innovation. Also, the existing educational systems are not interactive, nor sufficiently tailored to the individual. In addition, they have been used for outdated materials and knowledge. The evaluation is based on testing of such knowledge, which facilitates the evaluation system, but limits the real possibility of learning.
Teaching without assessment is something that leads to learning, and innovation is a prerequisite. Research shows that conventional methods of group opinion are not conducive to innovation. Experience shows that only 20 to 30 percent of the participants are actively taking part on typical “brainstorming”, while others are completely passive. Instead of group thinking and partial execution, innovations require a combination of group, and individual innovative thinking, continuous exchange of ideas within the network and networked execution. The problem may occur due to expertise related to a particular subject. On one hand, a certain degree of expertise is, of course, necessary for innovation, but on the other hand, high expertise can block the mind to see things in a different way. Similarly on expertise, excessive focus on something may restrict the free flow of ideas and to block innovation.
Many companies seek to hire the best and brightest, and then they leave too little time for thinking. The most qualified employees are often under constant pressure by the management to complete certain tasks of development and introduce new products in a short period of time. I recently told a group of colleagues to raise their hands if they think they are creative. About 20% of them raised their hand as a sign that they are creative. As proof of this thinking I was looking for them to write at least one creative idea. And again, I found that only 20% of them have written creative ideas. I wondered what happened to the conventional view that each of us is creative. Watching their body language, I felt that simply they do not bothered enough to think. I confirmed that “thinking” is most difficult thing, and we do not think naturally productive if we are not compelled to do so. Once we get used to thinking, we can become quick thinkers. Otherwise it is not easy to learn to think.
Then I outlined the next steps for creative thinking: prompt to thinking, notice things and objects around you by their uniqueness and diversity, and combine two or more things in a new idea. After that, I gave them five minutes to write a creative idea. Again, I ask them to raise hands those who wrote the creative idea. This time, 90 percent of them raised their hands. This shows that they beat the first step towards creative thinking, and that is to simply start thinking. It’s human nature that we do not like to think creatively if we do not need.
One way to start thinking creatively is to came out more often in situations as “I’m thinking creatively.” Many emotional states can help us to motivate, and got into such a situation like challenging, fun, necessity or curiosity. Once people learn to think creatively, the next step is to learn to think creatively quickly. It requires us quickly filtering a large number of ideas into one that “holds water.” To be innovative, we have to “roll over” in our head many, many things in a particular way, but also recognize which idea can be applied and which not. Think constantly and rapidly is the first symptom that people become innovative.
I recently read a book named “The Invisible Employee” written by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. I read a statistic, which said that 25 percent of employees often cry at work, and that 50 percent of employees are verbally abused. From personal experience, I know that almost 100 percent of employees believe to be unappreciated at work, and their innovative ideas have been ignored because of the “well-being of the company.” Most companies set goals to employees such as productivity, quality levels, profits and sales. Very rarely innovation as a goal. Every employee in the organization is a potential innovator and has the potential to contribute to innovation. However, their ideas, their intelligence and success are not always noticed. When executives face the problems become very busy trying to solve the problem, and solving problems do not involve their people. Other employees are invisible. They miss the opportunity to contribute innovative solutions to assist organizations in difficult times. It is necessary that executives believe more in their employees and their hidden talents.
Research survey results from 2012 showed 14 major factors that enable the development of innovative culture in an organization.
- Focus on customers
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Appropriate resources (time and money)
- Quality of communication in the organization
- The ability to choose the right ideas for research
- Ability to identify creative people
- Freedom to invest energy and time to innovate
- Ability to measure results of innovation
- Supporting small and big ideas
- Innovation as one of the goals of the business
- Culture risk tolerance
- Organizational Structure
- Fostering diversity
- Balance between small and large improvements discovery
After all been said, do you consider your company as innovative? Are you allowed as an employee to innovate, or do you allow innovation within your company as employer? Share your thoughts!