Your newsletter on applied creativity, imagination, ideas and innovation in business.
Tuesday, 21 November 2006
Hello and welcome to another issue of Report 103, your fortnightly newsletter on creativity, imagination, ideas and innovation in business.
As always, if you have news about creativity, imagination, ideas, or innovation please feel free to forward it to me for potential inclusion in Report103. Your comments and feedback are also always welcome.
Information on unsubscribing, archives, reprinting articles, etc can be found at the end of this newsletter.
12 WAYS TO MOTIVATE OTHERS TO BE MORE CREATIVE
If you are a manager, your creativity responsibility is twofold. Not only should you be more creative yourself, but you should also be motivating your subordinates to be more creative. And it is that combined creativity that leads to innovation.
With this issue of Report 103, we will look at a dozen ways to motivate others to be more creative. These are all very basic actions and easy to implement. Nevertheless, the results should be impressive. Here they are...
1. Compliment people often.
Arrogant or rude managers, on the other hand, essentially build walls between themselves the creativity of their subordinates. After all, if your boss is rude to in the best of times, why take a chance sharing a crazy idea with her?
Of course you need to be careful not to be seen as someone who blindly compliments everything. Then you are likely to come across as being out of touch. Compliments must be warranted. But they must also be given generously.
2. Challenge people often.
In particular, in situations where you might once have said, “it cannot be done”, ask instead: “How might we do it?” Where once you might have said: “We don't have the budget to do that!”, ask instead: “How might we reduce the cost of that idea so that we can fit it in our budget?” or “In what ways might we convince senior management to buy into this idea?”
When preparing a presentation to a client, don't just open PowerPoint on your computer and call up your standard business presentation template. Instead, start by asking your team: “In what ways might we give this presentation real impact?”
When performing routine tasks, ask, “In what ways might we improve this process/make this process more efficient/make this process less time consuming?”
And so on. Constant challenges keep everyone's minds sharp and lead to lots and lots of great ideas on a regular basis.
Importantly, also get in the habit of challenging yourself regularly. It will do wonders for your creative output.
3. Remind People that You Want Ideas
Likewise, in general meetings, always remind people that you are interested in hearing their ideas at any time.
Needless-to-say, when people come to you with their ideas. Listen attentively, provide positive feedback and, if there are problems with the idea, challenge the idea owner to solve those problems (see Challenge People Often above)
4. Reward ideas.
You can assign rewards to specific challenges (see above), such as “In what ways might we improve our sales pitch? I have five boxes of chocolates for the best five ideas!” Or: “In what ways might we improve product X? Every idea gets an apple!”
Rewards, of course, may also be more structured and associated with idea management processes or structured brainstorming events.
5. Provide Time to Think.
Worse, in cubical farms, the employee who is seen staring off into space is likely to be seen as one slacking off rather than one who is hard at work thinking up innovative ideas for the company.
What this all means is that you need to help your subordinates organise and prioritise their time and stress that thinking is a critical component of their job responsibilities.
6. Provide Space to Think and Talk and Create.
Thus you need to provide your subordinates with places where they can think and collaborate on ideas. Niches with tables and chairs are simple, yet effective. People can find a niche, sit and talk. More elaborately, you can provide conference rooms with beanbag chairs and toys in them for people to really relax and think. Allowing people to take walks is also effective. If you've been reading Report 103 for any length of time, you will know that I firmly believe in walks as a means of juggling brain cells and inspiring creative thinking.
7. Go on Creative Thinking Field Trips.
You can also visit places not directly related to your business and find inspiration. Art galleries, museums of all kinds and unrelated businesses can inspire ideas. Look at how a restaurant in a small town serves its customers and ask how you might offer the same level of service to your big business customers.
8. Push Ideas.
Hence, when someone comes to you with an idea, ask her to push the idea further or ask “That's a great idea. But you are a creative person. So, think about how else we might accomplish that action and let me know what ideas you generate.”
Likewise, if you issue a challenge to your subordinates, ask for another idea for every idea suggested. But, be sure to compliment the suggested idea. The aim is to generate more ideas. Compliments – as we have read already – are great for generating ideas.
9. Implement Ideas
Over time, however, these companies have managed to never even come close to actually implementing the ideas their managers devised. In some cases this was due to the perceived risk of the generated ideas. In some cases it was because an easy mechanism for implementing the ideas didn't exist. But most often, it seemed that business-as-usual at these companies had too much momentum and it was simply impossible to change business-as-usual in order to implement new, unusual ideas.
Not implementing ideas is not only a tremendous waste of resources (think how much it costs to take a dozen managers off their duties for a day), but it is also demotivating in a big way. If subordinates see that ideas are not being implemented – they will quickly learn there is point in sharing their ideas.
Tools might include mind-mapping software for developing ideas. Medium to large organisations can implement idea management tools – such as Jenni idea management software service (http://www.jpb.com/jenni/) to capture and manage ideas as well as focus innovation on business needs.
11. Encourage Humour
Laughing frees up our inhibitions and makes us feel good. Jokes, like creative ideas, are usually about bringing together dissimilar concepts in new ways. When a group is laughing, participants often try and outdo each other with funny ideas. And those funny ideas are often very creative ideas.
12. Be Creative Yourself – and Demonstrate it!
As a reader of Report 103, you are certainly a creative thinker. So this last step should not be difficult for you. The question is, are you demonstrating your creativity? Do you bounce ideas off your colleagues – including your subordinates?
If you use creative thinking tools – do you show your subordinates what you are doing and why? If not, it is important that you do. Your subordinates need to see that you are being creative at work. That will make it much easier for them to be creative.
If you want to boost your creativity, you might enjoy the first creativity article to appear on the jpb.com web site – and a long time favourite page on the site: 10 Steps to Boost Your Creativity (http://www.jpb.com/creative/creative.php has been on line for more than 10 years now.
If you are thinking about idea management for your firm, you might be interested in trying out Jenni idea management. There are two ways to do this. Our newest approach is what we call “Jenni Experience”. Jenni experience allows you to participate in an actual ideas campaign where you will be invited to submit ideas on a real innovation challenge. You will also be able to review ideas already submitted as well as look around in Jenni.
Once you have submitted an idea, it will be reviewed by an idea manager and sent to review via evaluation, SWOT analysis and testing. You will be invited to participate in each of these stages – so you'll get a clear idea of how easy yet effective the idea review process is with Jenni.
Once you've gone through these steps, we'll contact you to demonstrate the administrative and management functions of Jenni.
At the end, you should have a very clear idea of how easy and – dare I say it – fun Jenni idea management can be. To participate in the Jenni Experience, start here: http://www.jpb.com/jenni/experience.php.
If you would prefer a guided tour of Jenni, where one of our sales people or I take you through the features of Jenni and answer your questions, visit http://www.jpb.com/jenni/contact.php to arrange a demonstration. Guided tours can be performed at your office, one of our offices or via the web and telephone.
To learn more about Jenni before embarking on Jenni Experience or a guided tour, please visit http://www.jpb.com/jenni/
LATEST IN BUSINESS INNOVATION
If you want to keep up with the latest news in business innovation, I recommend Chuck Frey's INNOVATIONweek (http://www.innovationtools.com/News/subscribe.asp). It's the only e-newsletter that keeps you up-to-date on all of the latest innovation news, research, trends, case histories of leading companies and more. And it's the perfect complement to Report 103!
Report 103 is a complimentary weekly electronic newsletter from Bwiti bvba of Belgium (a jpb.com company: http://www.jpb.com). Archives and subscription information can be found at http://www.jpb.com/report103/
Report 103 is edited by Jeffrey Baumgartner and is published on the first and third Tuesday of every month.
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