We know that there is a risk associated with creativity and innovation
. It reminds me of this statement from some unknown guru: “Behold the turtle! He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” At the same time, the future of your organization will, in large measure, be determined by your ability to innovate and change. The key here is that the creative process needs to be properly employed.
Here are some strategies you can use to become more creative yourself and encourage those around you to do so too.
1. Look for new ideas constantly. Search the Internet, read books and magazines, attend exhibitions and workshops.
2. Keep your mind open to ideas from unexpected places. Allow your mind to wander, especially in places you do not normally visit. Keep a pen and pad to jot down new ideas.
3. If you work with critical people, keep your ideas to yourself until you have had a chance to formulate them fully. With each idea, think about the benefits, drawbacks, and costs. Anticipate and find solutions to possible objections.
4. Don’t exclude any idea by deciding in advance whether others will accept them. Concern yourself with selling the idea only as a last step. If you try to sell it before you’re ready, you may inhibit your imagination and creativity.
5. Don’t always expect to get home runs. Look for small improvements rather than major breakthroughs. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself. As you become more innovative and your confidence grows, so will the size of your ideas.
6. Ask your boss for a budget for some level of experimentation, including time and materials. This will send a strong signal to you and your colleagues about the importance the company places on innovation.
7. Permit yourself to make mistakes. Consider them a stepping stone on the way to success.
8. Be persistent. Sometimes the skeptics jump in quickly, especially if they know you will be easily discouraged. Stay with your idea if you are convinced of its value.
9. Be open to the ideas of others, and they will become more supportive of you too. Be open and responsive to new ideas. Listen to be influenced rather than concentrating on developing a rebuttal.
10. If you find it difficult to assess the merits of your idea, find someone who can and who may become a spokesperson. Often, it’s not what you say but how yo say it. Some people have a talent for being persuasive.
Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from The Portable Mentor: Your Anywhere, Anytime Career Coach and Problem Solver
by Cy Charney. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association.