We live and work in an era of rapidly accelerating change with frequent upheavals and interruptions. Everywhere we look, traditional structures are abruptly being reshaped or falling down. Many organizations that prospered during more stable times – times that rewarded routinized efficiency – now find themselves poorly adapted to today’s new economic and social realities.
Organizations must develop new ways of thinking and behaving in order to succeed in a turbulent world. While many organizations possess ample efficiency and analytical capability, successful organizations must also learn to integrate adaptability and innovative capability into their repertoires. Creative problem solving attitudes, behaviors, thinking skills and processes must be learned and developed to the extent that they become second nature. Organizations that adopt this approach will discover that creativity competency serves to complement analytical capability in building a highly effective operation that can thrive in today’s demanding business environment.
Many things will be different by the time we hit the middle of this century. Managers will be leading, thinking and problem solving at much deeper and more innovative levels. As technological advances in social networking, Big Data and artificial intelligence provide more insightful information and more reliable evaluative analytical tools, tomorrow’s managers will differentiate themselves through their generative and conceptualizing abilities.
Is your company nimble, adaptable and innovative? Does it quickly capitalize on new trends and technologies, often with leading-edge products? Or is it slow to change, and often resistant to new ideas? Despite the lip service many companies pay to the concept of innovation, many continue to throw up organizational roadblocks that discourage creativity. If any or all of these five challenges feel familiar, it might be time for a creativity overhaul.
In my blog last week, I made the point that innovation is a learned process that we can all integrate into our lives to build a daily habit. Too often, innovation is seen as a final product or result, not an ongoing process.
Innovation has been innovated.
As the concept and topic of innovation has increased in popularity over the last decade, the world has seen many novel and imaginative new ideas emerge about how to create, harness, encourage and source innovation. Having spent my professional life researching, investigating and practicing creative problem solving techniques, it’s a development I find deeply encouraging.
Promotions, raises, pats on the back and even just the regular paycheck are among the ways organizations show their employees that they are valued and their contributions are recognized.
But it’s not that uncommon for organizational rewards to be out of sync with the behaviors employees are told are valued. And when there’s a conflict between a company’s words and its rewards, want to guess what speaks most loudly to staff?
A Chinese proverb warns us to be careful of our habits, for they shall become our character. It’s a concept that I think captures the importance of routine in developing us into the people we become. If we habitually condition ourselves to reject the untried, the unknown or the unusual, we are doomed to action that is likely to be safe, predictable and reliable, but unlikely to be inventive or innovative.
The business world doesn’t expend much energy on problem finding. It’s an uncomfortable and often untidy process. And while many leaders consider themselves to be good problem solvers, most seem to find the idea of searching for new problems to be counter-intuitive. The “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” theory of management is alive and well.