Innovation is simple!

Is innovation difficult?

Well, yes and no. Yes � because most of us have our innovative abilities removed � or severely limited � by and educational system that is always looking for the one right answer. Our ability to innovate is thus slowly forced out of us as we give teachers what they want.

Innovation thus becomes something special, a kind of mystical, even mythical, quality. It is the province of very clever and creative people, not regular people like you and me.

But NO � there are things we can do to put things right - to encourage ourselves and those who work for us to be creative and innovative.

There are two essential factors needed to stimulate innovation:

Engagement and Exploration.

Firstly, people need to engage with the situation under review. This is much more likely if they are also engaged with the organisation. Thus, individuals � and groups � who respect their organisation and the way in which it treats them are much more likely to make the effort to think about their work and how it can be improved.

Those who are not engaged often see themselves as �human resources� (whoever coined that term did a great disservice to employer-employee relationships!), another number on the payroll.

Next we need people to constantly � or at least regularly � explore �the art of the possible� � how might things change for the better? We want people to pursue excellence � but �better� will do. That is better than the standard attitude where �getting it finished� is enough � �getting it right� takes too much effort.

Yes, but how do we stimulate innovation?

Well, we get people to work through structured approaches to asking questions?

One way is to start from the current situation and move forwards (particularly useful if we have identified a specific problem).

The other way � and perhaps the way likely to lead to greater innovation - is to imagine what �excellence� would look like and then to work out what stands in the way. Perhaps the right question is � �What would excellence look like to our customers?�

So, we stimulate innovation by having in place structures and processes that give people the time to understand their customers and to ask the questions � we then � most importantly � listen to their ideas and suggestions.



Productivity is my 'bag' ... it is what I know about. I am President of the World Confederation of Productivity Science - and Director of the National Productivity Centre in the UK - go to this site for some good free resources and some (paid for but low price) e-learning on productivity. I also edit the International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management. My views on productivity and on learning (which I think are related) are su...

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