I was at an Academy for Chief Executives event recently where we get to see a real variety of expert speakers who showcase what they know and share great practice.
One of them, David Hall, an expert on innovation and creativity, really got me thinking. His premise is that most companies when they talk about innovation or being creative are actually talking about minor improvements or implementing really good ideas that are not really a departure from the norm.
In other words we may well operate in a continuous improvement cycle but we are basically smoothing off the edges or streamlining the processes and methods we are already comfortable with, as opposed to discovering groundbreaking new ways.
If this is the case it means we really have to do things and use methods that will interrupt the normal thinking patterns and allow us to jump outside our usual frameworks( including the overused brainstorming type exercises) and look for methods and exercises that will really stretch our thinking.
I think though there is an even more basic problem facing companies of all types and sizes. That is that most are far too busy ticking off lists of tasks and generally being very busy to give ANY time to innovation or improving anything at all.
When did you last gather your people around you in an attempt to get their views on how to do things better? I know one company that has a great exercise around this. They have a suggestion box with a difference. The box says ” The craziest things we do around here” and it get full of brilliant suggestions. Some companies hold lunches with a cross section of employees on a regular basis aimed only at looking how anything and everything can be done better.
I work every month with a group of business leaders who regularly challenge each other and admit to needing help or the input of others to ease their way through challenges.Please take a look at the video and if you’d like to know more, please do give me a call or contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org