We’ve heard it and seen it a lot over the past 20+ years. People in the corporate world are afraid to push the limits and take a calculated risk. They want to be innovative, want to have an impact on their company’s bottom line or how it does business. But at the end of the day, they surrender to fear and do something safe. They do something that doesn’t make waves, something that won’t draw too much attention. What these people don’t realize is that in the waves is where the big ideas live—the real innovation, the real results. The most innovative minds in history (da Vinci, Picasso, Edison and dozens of others) have proven it over and over again—when it comes to innovation, failure is part of the process.
Even in business, we know that many of the people we consider to be the most successful entrepreneurs have failed more times than they have succeeded. These entrepreneurs lack the fear of failure and are driven to continue trying again and again. Ultimately, the success they achieve is at scale so great, it makes everyone else forget about their misguided ideas and botched attempts. Yet for some reason this thinking has evaded many in the corporate culture. So how does a company transform itself into a breeding ground for innovation where the fear of failure isn’t a paralyzing factor?
A few years ago, we had a client who wanted help generating ideas on how to bring innovation to life within his organization. To our surprise, we discovered that the biggest barrier to innovative thinking wasn’t a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of willingness to share those ideas. Our challenge soon shifted from promoting innovative thinking to creating an atmosphere that fostered it. Adding to the complexity of this challenge, was the fact that we were dealing with a global company and a wide range of business units.
Our solution was to remove people from the constraints of a work-based environment and inject them into a competitive, game-like atmosphere. One that promoted free thinking by placing a premium on speed, volume and diversity of ideas. Additionally, we used technology to eliminate the social and political barriers that often exist within a business by ensuring anonymity through user names.
Technology also played a role in capturing the ideas by preventing the facilitator or leadership from weighing the value and viability of the ideas as they were generated. The result? A fast-paced, highly efficient global idea generation session that allowed a leader to address small challenges or large initiatives while leveraging the full creative problem solving skills and thinking of their entire team.
Here are some lessons learned:
- Eliminate hierarchy from idea generation. Many workers are afraid that if they submit an idea or take a risk and it doesn’t pan out, their leaders will devalue them (and unfortunately in some cases, this is true). If you create an atmosphere where idea generation can be collected with some level of anonymity, the number of ideas captured are likely to increase exponentially.
- Invite everyone to the table. Don’t limit yourself by only capturing the ideas of a select group. Instead, extend the invitation to participate to a wide range of roles and encourage them to share their ideas and insight. You might be surprised by the source of your most innovative ideas.
- Leverage technology. Technology offers great potential for your organization to capture and share ideas on a grand scale—embrace it! The more people can share ideas and insight with one another, the greater the potential for innovation to evolve. Often times, a new idea will evolve as different minds see it from a new angle and apply it to other areas of thought.
- Create an atmosphere of fluid thinking. Put a premium on the speed, volume and diversity of the ideas that are generated. People are less likely to self-edit and more likely to expand their thinking outside of their comfort zone when the fear of being judged is eliminated.
- Incremental can be extraordinary. Contrary to popular belief, not all innovation requires revolutionary change. Smart yet incremental change can move the needle the most, and generally requires little effort to bring to life.
- Hold off on evaluating. Don’t try to determine the viability of an idea when it’s first presented. Let it sit for a little bit. Analysis generally paralyzes innovative thinking.
As many businesses look for ways to develop and grow their business they will come to the realization that their greatest potential for growth is through the thoughts and insights that their employees provide.
Give us a call or shoot us an email to find out more on how we did it and to see the projects! From video production services, to brand stories, green screen, online video marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing or just simply needing a camera crew in Minneapolis or St. Paul, we do it all!