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Give Them Permission to Innovate

 8th March 2016 by gihan

You don’t need special rooms with bean bags and coloured walls to inspire creativity. Instead, simply make innovation part of your regular environment. Instead of creating physical space, start by giving them permission to be innovative:

  • Be open to new ideas yourself. If your team members don’t see you accepting, embracing or initiating new ideas yourself, they will be reluctant to suggest ideas.
  • Look forward. Some people “innovate” with suggestions that resist change and restore the status quo. Although this does create change, it’s not change that moves you forward. Instead, encourage innovation that adapts to change, embraces it, or leads it.
  • Encourage criticism. Every Friday afternoon, team members at start-up company URX meet for their “Contrarian Office Hour”, a meeting where anybody can raise any concerns, issues, problems, criticisms or opinions about how things are done. The issues are not raised as personal attacks, but as genuine opportunities to improve the workplace.
  • Kill some sacred cows. Ask team members to nominate long-established rules that “have always been done that way”, and imagine what would happen if you did them differently. This might just be a thought experiment that sparks an interesting discussion, or (even better) a chance to actually break the rules and see what happens.

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