Help foster innovation by asking people to agree to guidelines, like being positive and open minded.
Defining innovation can be challenging. For us, innovation means thinking differently, exhibiting creative behaviors, and continually doing things in new ways to create positive change.
We want our employees to feel empowered to foster innovation. But, how can we be innovative in our everyday work?
When your job description requires you to be innovative every day, you pick up some tricks along the way.
My Favorite Tips to Foster Innovation
- Be open to exploring new ideas. Sure, you may have tried something ten years ago, but since that was a different time, maybe it could work now. We call this greenhousing.
- Incorporate freshness into your life. Walk to work a different way, listen to a different radio station, take your next meeting outside, or try a new restaurant. Trying new things could spark solutions to challenges.
- Use energizers. Engage your coworkers at the beginning of a meeting, in the middle of a long meeting, or during the three-o’clock slump with quick activities called energizers to get their creative juices flowing. See some of my favorite energizers below.
- Start meetings with verbal contracts. Think about how you want people to act, and ask them to agree to guidelines. For example: Be positive and open minded; be respectful of time; turn off laptops and smartphones (this one lets you call people out if they pull out their phones).
- Understand what people want. Gathering insights (i.e., talking to people) helps guide your ideas when you are problem solving.
Gathering insights from people and using them to organize your ideas is an important part of creative problem solving.
Use Simple Energizers to Get Creative Juices Flowing
Here are a few energizers our team uses to help participants foster innovation when we host sessions with our employees, customers, and community partners:
Have everyone pair up with a piece of paper and a marker. Instruct them to place their pen on the paper, stare into their partner’s eyes, and draw their portrait — without looking at the paper! They will give their portrait to their partner, so each person has their own picture; ask everyone to share their name, portrait, and energy level on a scale of 1–10. This works best for introductions.
Give the group 30 seconds to line up in birthday order (month and day only). Participants can’t talk, so they have to figure out a different way to communicate. Once the line is formed, create groups of 4 or 5. This works best for creating groups.
Have the group stand in a circle. Throw a ball to someone at random and then have them throw it to someone else. Explain that a ball can’t be thrown to anyone who’s already received it. The last person to catch the ball must throw it back to you. Everyone must remember who threw them the ball and who they threw it to — this is the path all balls must follow. Have a few practice rounds, getting the ball to go faster and faster. Make things more interesting by slowly increasing the number of balls in play. This works anytime.
We can help you learn the human-centered innovation process we use and apply it to your unique business challenge.
Contact our team for more information.