Innovative thinking sounds straightforward, but implementing it can be harder than it seems.
Nobody is a born an innovative thinker. After gaining different kinds of experiences, people develop their thinking skills and improve their ability to generate innovative ideas.
Defining Innovative Thinking
My simple definition of innovation is “doing something new, or doing something old in a new way.” By extension, the definition of innovative thinking would be, “to think up something new, or to think about something old in a new way.”
Innovative Thinking in the Workplace
Innovative thinking is critical in business because the world is rapidly changing. Individuals and organizations who try to get by with simply doing the same old things in the same old ways will quickly find themselves left behind. To stay competitive, much less lead the market, organizations must foster innovative thinking in the workplace and individuals must remain open to new ideas, processes, and opportunities.
Innovative Thinking Activities
Here are a few activities you can use to improve your innovative thinking skill:
- Relax: Often the need to innovate comes out of a stressful situation. The challenge with this is that a racing mind blocks your creative flow. The best ideas and solutions usually come when we are not furiously looking for them.
- Meditate: This builds off the idea of relaxing. Meditation trains the brain to relax, opening you up to innovation even in stressful situations.
- Be Open to Random Thoughts: Don’t ignore any thought that comes into your mind; respect them all. Every thought has some sort of value; if a single thought doesn’t make sense, it may add up or lead to another thought.
- Read and Learn: One of my favorite approaches to creativity is that it involves “connecting two unconnected things.” The more you know, especially about things not directly related to what you are doing, the more you’ll be able to unlock creativity by connecting two unconnected things (Harvard Business Review has an article on innovative thinking recommending “hiring from the humanities because of the inherent creativity that can be brought in when you think beyond the “standard” degrees).
- Master Your Field: Keep enhancing your knowledge of your field. When you master a particular field, you think beyond others’ imaginations. That’s when innovative thinking can thrive.
- Carry a Pen and a Paper: You never know when a thought will hit you; the moment it does, write it down.
- Travel to Some of Your Favorite Places: When you travel to different locations, your mind expands to think more creatively than usual. Travel as much as you can to places that spark your thinking abilities. This will boost your innovative thinking.
- Don’t Censor Yourself: A cardinal mistake people make when generating ideas is evaluating them as they arise. This form of self-censorship immediately cuts off the creative flow. Let ideas freely flow out of you and worry about evaluating them later.
Leading Innovative Thinking
If you are a manager, executive, or if you lead others in any way, here are some tips to foster innovation amongst your teams:
- Inspire people to think out of their box. Play different games that promote innovative thinking and let people know you respect every thought they have.
- Award thoughts, not people. If there is someone who deserves to be appreciated, don’t hold back. Even receiving a simple certificate would invite more innovative thinking by others.
- Award attempts, not only results. We live in a results-driven world, and mot rewards are given to the people with the best results. That seems fair. The challenge is that innovation often comes after failure. If you only reward results, people will be discouraged from trying new things that may not work. Keep rewarding great results, but also add in some recognition for those who are attempting innovation.
- Don’t Discount Ideas. Appreciate the efforts of every person who comes up with a thought not previously shared. It’s possible you’ll find some ideas to be completely nonsense, but this is how you dig through the coal to get diamonds.
- Create a “Thought Box.” Place a box in the office and let everyone put their ideas into it whenever they want to. This can be anonymous so people will be freer in their ideas.
Doing new things and doing old things in new ways is not necessarily easy. However, if you want to stay competitive in an ever changing world, it is critical area of focus. Use the tips and ideas above to help your team, your organization, and you yourself improve your innovative thinking.
How Improv, Ding Happens, and Avish Can Help
Avish has a process that uses improv comedy tools, ideas, and principles to help access their creativity and increase their innovation. His interactive programs are fun, engaging, and highly relevant.
Avish can help you increase innovation and creativity in your workplace in several ways:
- Speaking at Your Annual Meetings
Presenting ideas around improv and change to a large group of people in a short period of time (45-90 minutes). Avish’s presentations are fun, engaging, interactive, motivational, and designed to open-minds and get people started down the path of adaptability and innovation.
- Training at your Workplace
Working hands-on with a smaller group of people for a longer time where the focus is on skills-transfer. Giving your team the skills and practice to implement these ideas in the real word.
- Facilitation at Your Next Leadership Retreat
Taking your leadership team through a process that helps them create a plan of their own to increase creativity and innovation throughout the entire organization.
Contact us now to book Avish to help your team respond to, embrace, and take advantage of change in the workplace!
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