63 Ways to Stimulate Employee Creativity and Innovativeness

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63 Ways to Stimulate Employee Creativity and Innovativeness
elmer palacio, Professor, Philippines, Member
Apart from a #0. Bottom-up approach,
I. In what other ways can an organization stimulate creativity and innovation in its employees?
II. What conditions and strategies are needed to support these approaches?
Thanks for your ideas...
Editor: we'll add numbers to all ideas for reference purposes and we'll remove double ones (as much as possible) to avoid this page becomes too cluttered and complex.
 

 
#1. Training in Creativity Methods
Dr zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran, Member
More than 7 years experience in creativity classes, showed me that in order to maintain and nurture creativity, several issues must be considered. Although elements of creativity are in human nature, they are during life destroyed by training methods.
Creativity can manifest in the conscious and non-conscious. With non-conscience I mean things like children 's creativity or adults when they do something without awareness of related concepts and processes.
One of the most important ways to stimulate creativity and innovation is "training about creativity concepts and methods, because it will open up a new space for discovering creativity.
 

 
#2. Appoint a Humble, Central Facilitator
#3. ASK them how THEY believe C and I could be Stimulated

Mandy Kendall, CEO, Canada, Member
A key prerequisite to the success of stimulating creativity and innovation in employees is to have a central facilitator operating in an enabling environment. The enabling environment is that of communication, clear limits and acceptance of diversity.
Management has to be transparent as to the overall goals and as to the available resources of the company.
The potential innovations are stimulated through the key skilled facilitator humbly asking for employees' help in determining the most appropriate communication processes to stimulate creativity and innovation in employees within the available corporate resources and to achieve the stated goals.
There is a lot more detail to this plan that I have outlined in a few sentences above, However, the approach is tried and tested by myself a number of times. I have successfully implemented a performance management process in companies whereby the process allows for the stimulation of creativity and innovation in the lower levels of employees.
Humility and transparency are critical components for this approach to work.
 

 
#4. Implement Lateral Thinking
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Mandy Kendall: I agree with your central facilitator. In conjunction with the Points of Light Program, which I have outlined on my profile page, I have proposed a Chief Performance Officer which sounds very similar to your central facilitator. Although this function rests at the top of HR management chain of command, it is a HR DEVELOPMENT function. My experience with HR is summed up in my remarks about Rosabeth Moss Kantor and they are not what you are talking about.
Thanks to Andrew Blaine, I have become enamored with lateral thinking as an element of a community process around creativity such as the Points of Light Program (which was originally conceived to merge a Soviet and US aero-space populations). I have already incorporated in the process. But talk more of your own experience. You are on the right track.
 

 
#5. Grant Freedom to Employees
#6. Provide Support by Managers

DANNY SUSIKWANA, Accountant, Zambia, Member
My experience both in business and in teaching shows that creativity is in all humanity and lies inert in most of humanity. In order to bring out that creativity there is need to create suitable conditions. Employees should be allowed to venture into finding solutions to problems without any threat from their supervisors. Creativity thrives when freedom is granted and the fear of failure is removed.
Supervisors should play a supportive role giving impetus to the efforts workers are pursuing to solve corporate problems. Once workers feel and know that they have the freedom and full support of managers and supervisors there will be no limits to their creativity.
Managers should support and celebrate the efforts of their workers and not restrict and micromanage it. Managers and supervisors role is to believe and support the workers. Managers must also be seen by their workers as supportive and inspiring.
Once workers have faith in the goodwill of managers, creativity will be released.
 

 
#7. Create an Environment of Inquisitiveness
Herman, Manager, South Africa, Member
In reading the responses to the question, it seems to me an expensive process of appointing facilitators, and others to come and do the stimulating or to have creativity presented as training while it is, according to me, an inherent natural process for us.
Would it not be better to train line supervisors and managers to create an environment of inquisitiveness (Editor: ~curiosity) in the work of their employees.
This can be done in the workplace and if it is done as part of the everyday monitoring/supervision or normal communication between the supervisor/manager and employee is should be seen as a natural process and I believe that creativity, directly linked to inquisitiveness, will be the result. I have tried it and it works!
 

 
#8. Organize Assistance to help Incubation
Ceferino Dulay, Jr., Philippines, Member
Throughout my career I have been involved with creativity/innovation when I started out in R&D management and later, in operations/business management and technical services. As Herman mentioned, it starts with creating an environment of inquisitiveness where people are encouraged to make improvements in their own work and other systems in the organization.
For example, problem-solving can be developed as a competency where one finds creative solutions to a problem.
To be able to do this, I make sure that people understand the technical and other perspectives of, say, a process procedure so that when they want to change things, they are always guided. This is where training comes in and some form a an incubator. Where research, development & engineering comes in. Productivity and quality programs come in. And just letting people find a way of making life easier for them in the workplace. Of course, the superiors would like to see how the innovative idea is supposed to work to ensure that there are no unwanted effects on desired short- and long-term end results.
 

 
#9. Train Only Talented People
Md Sufyan, Manager, India, Member
The best person for the assigned job should be the "mantra".
Creativity is related to think out of the box / lateral thinking, so an open work environment and positive thinking are helpful.
And by training one can sharpen the creativity, but not anyone is able to learn lateral thinking. One can not produce the creative man in a classroom.
 

 
#10. Create a Safe, Fearless and Risk Taking Environment
pawan jain, HR Consultant, India, Member
To stimulate employee creativity, provide a fearless, safe and risk taking environment to the employees which will help them to have an independent thought of any issue pertaining to their work.
 

 
#11. Do Away with a Blame Culture
#12. Institute Organisational Learning
#13. Reward System

Martin, Manager, Member
- First and foremost one should do away with a blame culture and encourage a learning environment. This is only achieved when actions of the organisation are such that employees are encouraged and willing to come forward and admit to mistakes, to bring out learning in the full knowledge that they will not be penalised for making honest mistakes.
This is very difficult to achieve in a litigious society, where it is seen as beneficial to ones self to apportion blame to others.
- Secondly, there needs to be an open and transparent debriefing process, where all who were involved are encouraged to contribute to organisational learning and individual learning, the employees know their world better than we do, accept the fact that they will have good ideas!
- Thirdly, employees should receive positive messages when thinking 'outside the box' and it should be a key behavioural competency that is recognised through an integrated reward & recognition strategy.
 

 
#14. Establish a Culture of Playing and Fun
Michael Nestor, Management Consultant, United States, Member
I agree with so many of the points stated. In the end it is a function of culture. Encourage employees to have fun, to play with ideas, allow for calculated failures.
By the time most employees are in the workplace they have had the idea of play... Beaten out of them.
Take the lead from such companies as Google and Facebook, promote fun and creativity.
At first this will take an initiative to get things started. Provide time and space for play! Play with ideas.. Play with potential scenarios, play with... What if! The creativity is in each of us, we need our environment to make it okay to come out!
@On Central Facilitator: the topic of a central facilitator came up in other comments... At first this is probably necessary. A central facilitator may be necessary to re-teach how to play... But an investment in a facilitator (or formal initiative) reflects that the organization is serious about this. Making a bold endorsement that play is okay!
 

 
On #3: Ask them
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Mandy Kendall: The big plus that your method (of asking the employees how THEY believe it can be achieved) lies in the simple fact that you receive what the employee/worker wants to offer, not what the executive hopes to hear.
The "democracy" of your scheme surely leads to greater spontaneity and relevance than the hierarchical approach suggested by those above?
 

 
#15. Inititate Special Creativity Events, Competitions, Exhibitions, Projects
Roberta Rizzo, Project Manager, Ireland, Member
I reckon creativity is a question of character and behavior: creative people probably have been stimulated since their childhood, but, in certain case, their creativity is hidden in the maturity.
I used to be a communication, external relations manager. In this role creativity and brilliant ideas were very important and useful: for that reason, I created special days or events for my employees (awards, competitions, exhibitions, project of research, etc.) for which they achieved additional benefits.
 

 
#16. Organize the C&I Effort
Satya Narayan, Strategy Consultant, India, Member
We need to also organize this entire effort. The Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence give a concise description of innovation:
“Making meaningful change to improve product, services, processes, or organizational effectiveness and create new value for stakeholders". The organisation should do the following:
1. Prepare suitable environment. Suitably modify Vision/Objective/goal statements of the organisation to incorporate importance given to innovation. Communicate the same to all.
2. Define and establish a guideline
3. Establish process (idea logging, business case, idea evaluation, piloting and full scale implementation). Automate/digitize this process. The whole process should be transparent and the originator should be aware of progress of the idea he has submitted.
4. Establish/implement suitable recognition, appreciation, reward mechanism.
 

 
On #2 (Humble Facilitator): You are Right But Humility and Transparency are Rare
GJ Tahash, Analyst, United States, Member
@Mandy Kendall: Kendall, any effort where "humility and transparency" are the starting point will probably work, but these necessary conditions are rare. The condition cannot be behaviourally-scienced in, either, as Weisbord taught us in 1987.
A test? For every client leader that you encounter, just look, listen and observe them: humility and transparency?
 

 
#17. Create Trusted Expectations that we're Serious about C and I
Alan Kennedy
I agree with @Martin and @Michael Nestor. We have to create the right environment to stimulate employee contributions to innovation. There is no way it is going to happen until employees see that they are encouraged and rewarded for doing so.
Unfortunately, far too many companies think this encouragement comes by way of canvassing from time to time for good ideas, or putting folks into a room with a facilitator once a year.
Don't forget, innovation is risky. While a new idea may sound great, very few of them work or get put into action.
Employees know this. Why would they take the risk of being ridiculed (or being fired) for a bad idea? As @Satya Narayan suggests, what is needed is a long term approach to encourage innovation. It must be accompanied by clear, consistent expectations that prove that the company is serious. Once these expectations are trusted by employees because employees believe the company means what it is saying, then employees will be start to step forward with their ideas.
 

 
#18. Empower Employees
#19. Appoint an Innovation Committee for Best Ideas

Albert Anthony D. Gavino, Analyst, Philippines, Member
By empowering employees, you give them chances to come with new ideas. Give these chances to new recruits, new hires, and then test them out.
Appoint an innovation committee that recognize best ideas and reward them could be something positive and rewarding for these people.
 

 
#20. Avoid Rules, Regulations and Restrictions
harish ramakrishnan, Management Consultant, Member
Avoid restriction and demoralization in an organization. Take daily or weekly feedback from employees regarding their level of innovativity in their work.
Too much rules and regulation destroy the creative and innovative thoughts of employees.
 

 
#21. Listen Actively
#22. Provide Non-judgemental Feedback
#23. Stop Immediate Filtering

Jean-Marc Guillemette, Canada, Member
As expressed by others, make it clear that contributing ideas is important and welcome.
LISTEN actively to your employees and provide non-judgemental feedback that reinforces efforts and helps them understand how to improve their contributions.
Allow them to have fun with ideas and stop worrying about only saying the right things.
Recognize and reward creativity, if only by openly acknowledging it.
Stop filtering everything: instead, allow employees to work through rough spots until creative contributions become more polished and finished.
Give them cool challenges, then get out of the way!
 

 
#24. Collectively Create an Innovation Strategy
Alexander N. Raikov, Director, Russian Federation, Member
For the purpose of stimulating creativity and innovative behavior of the employees the organisation's corresponding strategy should be developed BY the employees.
Each worker must see his place in this strategy. It is useful to conduct a strategic meeting method for the purpose.
 

 
#25. Visualize the GAP between Current (IST) and Desired (SOLL) Situation
Marcel Rietmaeker, Belgium, Member
A good start is to visualize (using a process flow chart, Ishikawa diagram) the gap where you are (current) and where you need to be in the future (desired).
Then create in the group alternative solutions to close the gap.
Make a distinction between improvement projects (existing situation), development projects (not existing situation) or problem solving projects.
 

 
#26. Determine the Focus Areas to Raise the Corporate Creativity Competence
Susanne Kanter, Management Consultant, Member
@Marcel Rietmaeker: I agree that to raise corporate creativity it might be useful to:
1. Analyze the current problem, as well as the desired future goal
2. Then determine, what creative resources are already available and which are not..
Once identified, it is obvious, where specifically to start and what would be the best strategy to precisely address the points in need.
 

 
#27. Use External People for (Extra) Creativity
Anand Brambha, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
The type of leaders within the organization often sets the tone of what the culture will be. As a business process and turnaround consultant, my observation is that creativity, innovation and problem solving seemingly resides with the external people looking in, and is construed not to be the job of individuals within the company.
Encouragement does not always work. Where do you stop the encouragement?
I say get the right people with a good track record to do the best job.
 

 
On #7: Inquisitiveness is not Enough for a Creative Solution, but is the First Step
Julio Hennings, Professor, Peru, Member
@Herman: I believe that inquisitiveness is NOT enough to get creativity. Because we need a method that can support us to think over a new solution in all aspects.
But maybe inquisitiveness is the first step, because it finds a creative solution to a specific problem.
 

 
#28. Top Management Must Recognize the Relevance of C&I
Erico Ebeling, Consultant, Brazil, Member
My understanding is that first of all, the decision makers in the organization should understand and recognise the relevance of the creativity and innovativeness for the future of the company.
Following this condition a formal structure must be constructed in order to monitor all the evolution related to this topic inside the enterprise.
Goals must be defined and training programs implemented all over the organization. I would like to suggest that small projects should be proposed, implemented, monitored and analysed to learn the process of creativity and innovation in order to get an overall commitment from the entire organization.
 

 
On #5 and #20: Just Like you Encourage Children...
Ching Quek, New Zealand, Member
Just like the way you encourage your children... A paper and pencil, and let them wander with minimum interference and expectations.
 

 
#29. Delegate Tasks as Much as Possible
Zaynabfaps adeleke, CEO, Nigeria, Member
Employees of any organisation should be constantly trained. Also delegate duties to them as much as possible to allow them to use their initiative and intuition.
 

 
#30. Give Employees Time to Think and Work on own Projects
Rodel Carandang, Manager, Philippines, Member
Give employees time to think.
Google give their employees 20% of their time think and work on projects that would be beneficial to the organization or to their clients. 3M has a similar program but they only allow 15% of their employees time to be spent on creative or innovative works. Most innovative companies do this.
Also, they do a hackathon type of events to encourage competition among teams and people from outside to get fresh ideas. We try to do this also in my company.
Cheers!
 

 
#31: Find and Match the Right Employees
#32. Provide Talent Career Development

kvssiyer, Consultant, India, Member
Employees are creative and innovative by nature. If they are not in practice it is traceable to the degree and level of mismatch of the jobs they are in with the inherent talent and interest or inclination in them. So to create innovative spirits in employees the basic point is observing and analysing and inferring whether the jobs they are in is closer to the inherent talent. Once done the action is to make certain their inherent talent and jobs they are in is in perfect match. It is easier said than done. It calls for redeployment or reorganization with respect to the jobs one is in as well the people with whom they are engaged.
Once done the next course of action will follow spontaneously and naturally.
Most organizations fail miserably in this vital aspect of matching individual interest or inclinations or talent with the jobs they are in. It is not merely recruiting the right people, but also developing them with the right tools in the HR through a system of career development, giving them challenging jobs and redeployment over a longer period.
 

 
#33. Look for a Freewheeling, Creative Thinking Mindset
Ceferino Dulay, Jr., Philippines, Member
I can understand a process of identifying problems and finding solutions which is commonly used in quality management processes. Such environments require a mindset that is logical.
Unlike other environments, which require another type of creativity, where the required mindset is freewheeling, lateral and playful.
Once the thinking process is anchored on a problem (such as is usual in the first environment), the thinking field becomes narrowed down.
Who knows, through creative thinking, a new structure might be conceived that will make the problem irrelevant altogether.
 

 
#34. Challenge Employees
N.Prabha, Teacher, India, Member
According to my point of view - giving challenging work to them makes employees think more about it, in addition to appraising and rewarding them for extraordinary performance.
 

 
#35. Unlearn Past Experiences and Impressions
#36. Welcome and Encourage Diversity of Ideas

srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
What holds back in creating a qualitative creative work are our past experiences etched as impressions in the subconscious mind. In order to enable qualitative creative work I think as a first step there is a need work on the past impressions which holds us back in order to go forward in creating (say out of box thinking).
Ultimately the creative environment where people are working needs to make people become child like. Also diversity of ideas enhances the creative work.
 

 
#37. Look for Inspiration Outside the Own Company Borders
Feyzal Peeroo, Accountant, Mauritius, Member
It is not easy to be creative, unless the end justify the means. In enterprises with a lot of routine work, the hectic atmosphere is not prone for someone to think of creativity.
Outdoor activities and brainstorming sessions outside workplace are the spices to make someone think differently and consider to start doing a process differently. However this is not applicable to the workplace all the times.
Teamwork could help too, but stages outside enterprise and research and development work are vital to change mindset.
 

 
#38. Encourage All Staff to Do Things Slightly Differently
Harp Minhas
Everyone is creative, it is not limited to the intelligent or academics, in fact it has been shown that those with less formalised training (hence thinking) have a greater capacity for creativity. What can really encourage creativity is to encourage staff to do things slightly differently and change their routine everyday - whether that is a new route to work or speaking to someone outside their group or change the way they do their job slightly.
Scientific evidence shows that this is the best way to encourage greater creativity across the board. The additional benefit from this is that this also gives employees an understanding of the benefits of change and improving working practices on a continuous basis.
 

 
#39. See this Change as an Investment and as a Strategy
Martijnse, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
A condition and strategy you might think of is to consider the investment you must be willing to make in the process of establishing a creative and innovative company.
Creativity goes hand in hand with some form of risk taking and risk taking will cost money. Stimulating creativity must not be a free ticket to freedom of making mistakes.
 

 
#40: Try to Focus the Creativity on CLIENT Requirements
PEDRO PAULO COSTALLAT BRUNO, Project Manager, Brazil, Member
Creativity depends on the requirements. The difficulty is to know these requirements. Seen this way, a critical question to aks is: what products and services are your clients looking for? Really?
 

 
#41. Become a Problem-solving Organization
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany, Premium Member
The creative mind tries to solve problems for the company, the consumer, the partner etc.. Creatives do not take anything for granted. They challenge common views.
A manager who does not even listen to complaints, who does not acknowledge new ways to solve problems, who does not want to discuss organizational shortcomings... Does everything to hinder creativity.
If you want a creative organization, become a problem solving organization. Creativity is not an exercise one can switch on or off on demand. Creativity is a certain type of atmosphere, a kind of culture, where people can talk open minded.
If rules are more important than results, if blaming and complaining is the only way to make you heard, if following all guidelines absorbs most of the energy, you have definitely done everything to prevent creativity.
 

 
#42: Listen to Internal Customers too
#43. Establish Informal and Transparent Communication
#44. Establish a Flexi Budget for R&D

Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
Dear all, for creativity to bloom remember:
#42: Nothing coming from any level of internal customers – howsoever insignificant – is ever unimportant / irrelevant.
#43. Communication must be informal and transparent.
On #17. A high level of trust must emanate from the top, and
#44. A flexi-budget for R&D must be available.
With this backdrop, minds of all stakeholders are liberated and given space through MBO’s creativity takes hold.
The real impetus then comes when the company undertakes to study the ‘philosophy’ and move ahead from the benchmarkers. Creativity now becomes the very organizational culture.
 

 
If Creativity = Problem Solving, How do You Make it Happen?
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Bernhard Keim: I agree with what is desired. The issue is. How to achieve that in the organizational culture?
The hope is that leadership will supply the example and nurture those qualities. But hope is not a method.
My experience is that a method is a force multiplier for leadership, especially in the field of creativity. There are many methods available and in my view lateral thinking offers the most promising process for introducing, expanding and nurturing creativity in a culture beyond the boundaries of slogans and wishful thinking. Lateral thinking, within a general problem solving context of action research, is a useful tool of management.
The issue of the attitudes of senior management styles is separate: if senior management prefers to manage by fear or confusion, the two most popular management styles, that will affect creativity. If it is a cooperative and collaborative management style, that will have positive effects on creativity.
 

 
#45. Create a Bottom-up Communication Platform
Nelisa Koti, Student (MBA), Member
Bottom up is important. So a firm may establish some kind of communication platform aimed at listening to what the employees think about the company or ideas they have for it, or various other types of improvement suggestions.
 

 
Creativity - the Recipe
Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
Dear all, the barriers – often blinding us completely – to develop a culture supportive of creativity usually are: environmental, intellectual, language (the tone and the approach) emotional and perceptual. The skills needed for overcoming them are two – mental, analytical and creative. Problems continue, nay oft-times grow, when the methods being applied are inappropriate, the information inaccurate, and the ability to coalesce analytical and creative thinking are imbalanced.
As noted in my @earlier reaction 4 steps steps become critical or even unavoidable to creating the culture of creativity.
 

 
#46. Create an Innovation Club and give Parties
Essentia, Coach, United States, Member
Innovation is at the heart of an individual's personality. Others may think the same way if an organization creates a competitive and meaningful rewarding environment. To keep it simple, to stimulate employee innovation and creativity create an innovation club and throw big annual red-carpet parties for innovators... That simple.
 

 
#47. Make Innovators Rediscover the Creativity in Their Inner Self
Dr zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran, Member
Building on my suggestion for @Creativity Training: In fact, we are born with creativity capacity. During our development this capacity is limited by external factors.
But it exists within us. We should discover it by our facilities.
 

 
#48. Reengineering
WAFULA BENJAMIN, CEO, Kenya, Member
I' d like to reinforce the reengineering concept to stimulating the mind to pick on better options rather than best options... A freedom to try new ways/or approach to problems that option that maximize on profit.
A reward system has worked for me to some extent, but must be done as policy rather than as a reaction to achievements by staff.
Refocusing as a concept in the daily running of the company allows staff/managers room to come up with new ways as opposed to reacting to problems.
Training staff to appreciate the opportunity problems present may be the key to innovativeness.
 

 
On #39. See Innovation as a Strategic Effort rather than as Fixing Problems
Ceferino Dulay, Jr., Philippines, Member
Although problems present opportunities for innovation, the bigger challenge would be innovations to drive business competitiveness. Because then innovation becomes a conscious effort rather than a reaction to a problem.
 

 
#49: Prize for Innovation
#50: Avoid Routine Environment
#51: Encourage Visiting Creative Events
#52. Ask for Feedback on Events
#53: Coffee Breaks
#54. Plants in the Office

GHESSASSI, Student (University), Morocco, Member
I suggest to also consider the following measures for creativity and innovation:
#49: Establish a prize for innovation (see also: @Essentia)
On #13: Offering a good salary and motivating its employees so that they can work without pressure.
#50: Avoid a routine environment: change decorations in the office, allow to make changes to document formats.
#51: Encourage most liable persons to visit lectures, music concerts, art galleries
#52: Push them for comments on such visits
#53: Set coffee breaks
#54: Have plants in the office and outside...
 

 
#55. Do not Mandate Creativity; Nurture It
Alan Kennedy
Wow! What a great set of responses to Professor Palacio's seemingly innocent question on how to stimulate creativity and innovation within the organization! Clearly, the professor has touched on an important issue.
With almost 60 responses, we can now see a pattern developing. It may offer a glimpse at the true barrier to C&I.
A large number of the responses try to mandate a solution. Whether that solution is appoint a facilitator, establish a prize, create a club, put in a structure, monitor results, or train employees, the point is that such mandated approaches are a barrier to creativity in most companies. The focus now becomes adherence to the rules of prize-winning, participation in the facilitated workshop or whatever. Maybe theses structures work for some employees, but it is probably a very small percentage of the total group.
So I agree with @#30 (Rodel Carandang) we should look to Google. It has taken the old concept of "the Skunk Works" (a group put together to work on a new idea, product, or problem) and loosened rather than tightened management of the C&I concept. Google just gives employees 20% of their time to work on whatever they want. Maybe this is the most powerful way to nurture C&I.
 

 
The Skunk Works as Important Metaphor
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Alan Kennedy: Your example of the Skunk Works is right on the target, especially within the context of Leadership. This organization was put together on a very selective basis (a strategy promoted above) so that innovation was organic to the organization as well as a reflection of the leadership, who recognized those qualities in the engineers that were selected. The issue, then, was to nurture that quality through the culture.
In terms of mandating innovation, I am skeptical like you. Schools like MIT which have those contests where the engineers are tasked to build a robot or create a product from a bag of trash are headed in that direction, but the organization is short lived.
 

 
On #30: Creativity and the Ampersand
Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
Dear all, creativity needs an environment that caters to experimentation wherein this ‘area of self-expression’ is supported and rewarded if the mission is a success. And if it falls short of expectations, then it doesn't face reprimands and reprisals.
What can further enhance the level of creativity, is what I level as AMPERSAND – giving employees the time, resources and space (a minimum of 15% of their monthly allocation) to ‘do’ what they wish, to advance the company objective and ‘how’ they go about doing it.
The process is at once natural and ‘nurtureal ‘and allows self-expression at the gut and research levels.
 

 
#56: Creative and Innovate Efforts Should Not Be Discouraged
Ofori Cassandra, Teacher, Ghana, Member
@Arif ur Rehman: I am a teacher in a public school where the rules, regulations and restrictions are clearly spelt out.
Creativity is damaged as any effort is seen as working to undermine the leadership. Thus it is for leadership to support employees with creative ideas and not see innovators as competitors.
Secondly, transparency in assigning duty and valuing the work done appropriately. When there is a challenge, an individual is not singled out and sanctioned, since success will raise the image of the organization as a whole.
 

 
On #56: Creativity, Innovation and Discipline
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Any innovation that does not start from management is some form of a challenge to authority. How this is managed, is dependent on the maturity and quality of management - which innovators need to understand and appreciate.
Also, Discipline is a necessary part of management but does not necessarily interfere with creativity and innovation. If imposed with foresight and understanding, it can only help to guide and channel creativity to consider relevant challenges and innovators to resolve and overcome the challenge in the most efficient manner. Creativity and innovation without discipline, both externally and personally imposed, too often leads to chaos.
 

 
#57. Creativity is not an Exercise. It's an Attitude
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany, Premium Member
Creativity depends on culture of an organization. Creativity means that people are driven for change. Observing organizations I have to say that too many became self referential and autistic to others' needs, including their customers. Organizations fail in that way that they become a mean in itself. The bigger they are, the more environment and employees are adjusted to them. But this has never been the reason of their foundation.
Employees become obedient. They even don't dare to challenge obvious mistakes by the organizations representatives and prefer to stay silent.
Stimulating creativity in a climate of well-adjustment is ridiculous. First management exercises independent thinking, then it wonders why it does not happen anymore. This occurs especially to creative people.
Creativity is not an exercise. It's an attitude..
 

 
On #56: Creativity, Democracy, Leadership
Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
@Ofori Cassandra: A ‘true leader’ by definition is in line with his associates. It is only when ‘democracy’ thus comes into his thinking that supporting creativity becomes his second nature – for he knows whatever if forthcoming of the creative effort will carry the institution forward. Creativity need not necessarily be singled out to ‘reward’ the individual but transparency will very much make the inventor stand apart from the crowd. And that in itself is motivation, fair and simple. Any other form of recognition will naturally come in due course of time.
 

 
Transparency and Democracy are not Synonymous Except in Retrospect
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Arif ur Rehman: I would say that a true leader defines the trajectory of his associates, moving forward. In this respect, democracy can be something of a covert process, especially when the leadership style is one of command and influence as opposed to command and control.
In many ways, the reward for creativity is the opportunity to be creative, the autonomy required and the novelty of the boundaries. It may not look democratic, but the command requirement to employ all available resources can only reveal the design in retrospect.
 

 
The Leader's Trajectory
Arif ur Rehman, Professor, Pakistan, Member
@Tom Wilson: Entirely true, Tom. Obviously the trajectory has to be chartered by the leader wherein the lead is based on the entrepreneurial spirit given to authenticity clearly articulated, in a democratic and empathetic environment based on rationality, yet guided by the gut feeling of cherishing chaos.
Loving chaos, and thus the inherent risk factor, gets creativity going.
 

 
Management as a Performance Art
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Arif ur Rehman: Relative to your perfectly framed comment about loving chaos, management is a process of dealing with one damned thing after another.
 

 
#58. Establish Employee-led Innovation
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
It has been recognized that innovation is not only a result of top-down investments in R&D. Rather, it is a process involving many people across the organization, including employees, to see new opportunities and to act on them. However, employee-led innovation remains a big challenge. The reasons is that employee-led innovation needs employees who go beyond their job descriptions, while most employees are usually just doing what they are told to do. So, how can employee-led innovation be stimulated?

Birkinshaw and Duke (2013) propose four enablers that facilitate employees to get involved in innovations:
1. Providing employees with space and time: The first enabler refers to time that is needed to think about innovations and additional resources that are needed in innovations. Although it is sometimes hard to implement because the time might be used for other purposes as well. However, if implemented well, employees can use a certain percentage of their time to use their creative thoughts to come up with innovative ideas.
2. (#59.) Expansive Roles: The second enabler deals with the same problem; this enabler refers to the enchewment of the initial job description so that employees can work outside their formal roles and have thus more time to spend for creative thinking and innovative ideas.
3. Competitions: The third enabler refers to the establishment of competitions so as to encourage action and to spur innovation. It is especially useful in the kick-off moment of an innovation process.
4. (#60.) Open Forums: The last enabler is an Open Forum in which companies provide employees with information, and employees are in turn encouraged to discuss issues, challenge their executives and enhance products or services. This is a very usefully way to raise transparency and trust that are required for innovation to occur, while simultaneously maintaining a personal touch with employees.
Source: Birkinshaw, J. and L. Duke (2013) “Employee-led Innovation” Business Strategy Review Vol. 24 Iss.2 pp. 46-51
 

 
On #19. Innovation Committees and their Decisions
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Albert Anthony D. Gavino: The only problem with your committees is that they have been described as "a group of people who make decisions together that they are not prepared to make on their own". I suspect committee decisions.
 

 
#61. Ask Many Challenging Questions
Ceferino Dulay, Jr., Philippines, Member
Creativity is not something that you plan for and do at any given time. It is spontaneous. A spark in a moment of inspiration.
I used to ask my staff a lot of questions, away from the usual way of doing things or solving problems until a moment when their minds open up to consider new things. A problem in technical work is that we are so used to following procedures that we automatically establish limits. But asking questions breaks down barriers and sometimes, I got amazed by the new ideas.
Usually, group thinking especially in committees doesn't get far enough as each person balances his/her ideas with the others and what the committee was created for.
 

 
#62. Give Innovators a Status they can be Proud Of
Samoletov, Coach, Russian Federation, Member
@Essentia: I arrange small celebrations of innovation success for all employeed (pizza party on the floor). It could be good to create a situation in which the innovator is given an exclusive status. It establishes a kind of professional pride from his side. Doing so will also help to involve other people, making creativeness a part of the modern inside of your organization.
 

 
#63. Create an Idea-driven Organization
Prabhavathi A, Coach, India, Member
In India and many other places, people work just to earn money. They never actually own the process. They do what is said and they try to perfect themselves. This does not mean that they are sheep. They can of course be the masters of their work and be very innovative IF GIVEN A CHANCE.

'Necessity is the mother of invention'. This holds true even in modern times. So the best practice is to create the necessity.
1. Invite suggestions to make the work or process easy and enjoyable.
2. Give a chance to try the suggestions and ideas. [this should preferably be done in waiting time]
3. Reward the ideas and suggestions.
4. Encourage Innovations. This does not mean putting a suggestion box and opening it once or twice a month, but listening to the idea or suggestion in the group and discussing it with other members of the group to find how it can be put into action. These discussions can be organized and facilitated by the team leads and process managers.
 

     
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Brett E Holdeman
Student (University)

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