Want to innovate and shine at work? Explore how to do so by following these 10 ways of how to innovate and shine at work. Utilizing creativity to drive innovation at work will create value for you and your organization.
By Catherine Adenle
In any organization, irrespective of your role as an employee, you need to know how to innovate and shine at work. Being creative and innovative at work will get you ahead, especially if you work in an organization where all minor or major innovations are appreciated. You can use innovation to convert your creative ideas into appropriate solutions and reap a great return on investment of your time and knowledge.
To be recognized or effective in an organization, you have to be seen as bringing ideas to the table that solve a problem or stem a challenge. According to a study by IBM, “About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking.”
“About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking.”
Innovation is now recognized as central to organizational performance. Having the ability to harness and convert creativity to innovation has become a critical organizational requirement for most organizations. Innovation is considered, quite simply, an imperative for organizational survival.
All organizations need innovation on all fronts, not just for new products, services, or technologies. Unfortunately, some employees don’t innovate because they don’t think it’s their job to do so. Well, innovation in the workplace is everyone’s job. New age and well-structured organizations don’t depend on a small number of exclusive employees to come up with innovations. Instead, they create a culture in which every employee is encouraged and empowered to innovate on its processes, products, workflows or services.
In light of this, explore these 10 ways to help you innovate and shine at work:
Turn the words, ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’: We are all creative beings! However, under the dark spell of unnecessary inhibition, we feel defeated, limited or stuck. Unfortunately, you are only as innovative as you allow yourself to be. If you want to innovate and shine at work, when you are confronted with self-limiting creative challenges, don’t turn away or ignore the calling. So, the next time you find yourself brainstorming on some challenging issues with your colleagues at work, think of how ‘you can’ by being bold at coming up with creative ways to get rid of the challenges. The more you exercise your ‘creative’ and ‘innovation’ muscles, the more creative and sharper they become. Try and also set aside time for rapid brainstorming sessions with innovative colleagues. Hold and lead a regular and well-focused team or group workshops to encourage new ideas to emerge.
Turbocharge your ‘psychological creativity muscle’ and catapult yourself into problem-solving mode: Remove the constraints that are stopping you from coming up with innovative solutions. In the workplace, it’s so easy to depend on others to always come up with innovative ideas. Don’t wait to be confronted with problems before coming up with solutions. Look for what is not working well and come up with an innovative solution to improve it. Put yourself forward, look first for relevant problems, pain points or dreams of your target group and then generate a new simple solution. You can reach out to know more about problems via personal face to face visits, and focus groups. When you know more, you can come up with a simple but useful innovative solution.
“Invention is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration!” –Thomas A. Edison
Collaborate and access available assets: If you want to innovate and shine at work, realize that no man is an island. You can never innovate alone in an organization. You need support, buy-in and a change of behaviour for any innovation to succeed. So, collaborate and widen your network to foster and unleash creativity that will lead to innovation. The more people you know at work, the wider your circle of influence becomes and the easier it is to partner with others, get approval and be innovative. Get enthusiastic, supportive and laser focused colleagues on board to help you refine any innovative ideas. You will be surprised at how people can make an idea sharper and more meaningful to generate great results. A team involved in a brainstorming session to innovate is likely to be more effective than the sum of its parts.
Be persistent: You need to believe in yourself and your idea. Once you have any innovative idea nailed down, be laser-sharp focused to do what it takes to achieve an end result that you envisioned. Be persistent in the face of bottlenecks and roadblocks. For an innovation success, you need actions, focus, tenacity and hard work to make your vision reality.
Identify potential bottlenecks: Innovation is not easy because potential end-users of your new innovation, be it a system, product or service must change their behaviour to use your innovative solution. The question is, ‘why should they buy into your innovative solution?’ So, before you sell your innovative idea, you have to give end-users a very good reason why they need the innovation that you are pushing! Effective innovation provides simple solutions for a relevant problem.
Outside the box is where you want to be in order to be innovative: To innovate and shine at work, be sure to think outside the box, but aim to present your idea inside the box. It’s important that you show how your idea is unique but at the same time show how feasible it is to implement. As you present your innovative idea, also present your partners that will co-develop the idea with you. Then, your innovative concept will have a higher chance of becoming a reality.
Take risks and be ready to fail or make mistakes: A certain amount of risk-taking or failure is inevitable with any innovation. Allow yourself to learn from your mistakes. Never be put off creativity by penalizing yourself for an idea that doesn’t work out. Remember, the reason why you create self-imposed inhibition is due to your fear of failure. Expect that some of your ideas will fail spectacularly. Put that down as the process of learning. Nail down your ideas, build prototypes often, pilot and test them out on employees, gather feedback, and make incremental changes. Rather than treat mistakes as failures, think of them as learning via experiments. Accept failures, then take your new-found knowledge and put it towards finding the best solution ever.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas A. Edison
Let your mind wander often and set your brain free: Your day-to-day environment and routine can affect how you think and feel. The more stress-free and calm you are, the more receptive you will be to tap into your creative sphere. Find a relaxing and inspiring spot that will help to trigger your creativity. We all have different triggers to access our creative spheres. Visit these tranquil spaces and go for long nice walks to help you derive creative solutions.
Scribble things down: Keep a journal to always scribble down your ideas and thoughts. Practice writing every thought, idea, tip, and inspiration down. Practice, lone brainstorming and think on paper. Doing this will help you to capture your thoughts, think on paper and start the creative process that will lead you to innovate. Called the Codex Leicester, Gates scooped up Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous notebook for $30.8 million in 1994, making it the most valuable manuscript in the world. If you want to play with it, check out the British Library’s digitized version. But why does Bill Gates keep coming back to a 500-year-old journal? “It’s an inspiration that one person—off on their own, with no feedback, without being told what was right or wrong—that he kept pushing himself,” Gates says, “that he found knowledge itself to be the most beautiful thing.”
Be curious, have the ‘need to know’ attitude and challenge: You cannot innovate and shine at work if you are not curious. All great innovators are curious and they like to solve problems. Try and go against the grains in how you see things. Often, lots of people see things the same, this inhibits creativity. Practice seeing things differently. Always ask yourself the questions, “What else and how else?” Be sure to ask questions and challenge existing workflows, processes, systems and methods.
If you want to innovate and shine at work, you need to free yourself from mind-created constraints. The only way to do this is by removing assumptions and restrictions. Thinking outside the box will help you to stand out. Be enthusiastic about helping to solve problems, open your mind to new ideas and solutions without setting for self-limiting beliefs. Remember, you are as innovative as the rest of them; all you have to do is get creative. Innovation is more about psychology than intellect.
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