Embrace the messiness

The joy of creation is within each and every one of us, in some way or another. It is such a powerful force. To unleash that in a person is to unleash his or her true potential. So how can we create the environment where creativity and the innovation can flourish?

If an organization has been able to successfully implement the first four principles of Semco Style, (trust, reducing control, self-management and extreme stakeholder alignment) the stage has been set for creative innovation.

Creative Innovation is the 5th Pivotal Principle of the Semco Style roadmap. By now, alignment has seen to it that everybody in the organization is well connected to customers and stakeholders, and fully understands their needs and aspirations.

What is Creative Innovation?

The constituent parts of creative innovation are:

- Creativity: coming up with the big idea – the act of conceiving something original or unusual.
- Innovation: converting the idea into a successful business – the implementation of something new.
If you have a brainstorm meeting that generates dozens of new ideas, you have displayed creativity but there is no innovation until something gets implemented. Somebody has to take responsibility for the risk of turning an idea into an innovation that has the potential to create added value.

Companies tend to focus far more attention on improving the front end of the innovation process, the creativity angle. But the real leverage tends to be in the back end, the execution angle. Ideas are there, but the follow-through is lacking.

Creative Innovation = Creativity x Execution

So creativity then, how do we do that?

For creativity to blossom, and to build the capacity of the organization to really develop and implement the ideas generated in innovation forums, the people in the organization need enough 'mental room' to think about opportunities out of their routine activities.

Companies should enable people to try novel experiences. Unexpected learning should be encouraged because this is the hotbed of innovation. Managers can best prepare their organizations for the future by loosening controls and allowing people to ramble into the future. Stimulate people to try all sorts of unorthodox things in the hope someone will stumble across a cutting-edge idea.

Rambling into the Future... How to Go About It

There are many things you can do and techniques you can try. Here are a few powerful practices we want to share with you:

“Go/No Go Meetings”

Once a month, anyone who is interested can attend a meeting where employees put forward new business ideas. At the end of the meeting, everyone gets a vote on whether or not to fund the new project. This approach to innovation sends many worthwhile signals, amongst other things that good ideas can come from anyone in the organization, not just business leaders and that sometimes intuition needs to be mixed up with the tried-and-true.

Nucleus of Radical Innovation

This nucleus is small business unit consisting of co-working knowledge workers – with no boss and no employees – who are free of day-to-day responsibilities and are expected to think. The team members are free to look at any aspect of the company’s business and suggest changes.

Lost in Space

Every year, several promising entry level employees are given an opportunity to work for the company unrestricted by job descriptions and bosses. They are recruited for a think tank , and are expected to come up with some business idea that will generate enough revenue to cover their salary. Benefits: the program develops some exceptional people and exposes the company to some new and original thinking.

Innovation 3.0 Embrace Messiness

Recent neuroscience research suggests that innovative people have greater connections between two networks of the brain that are typically at odds: the regions associated with attentional control, and those associated with imagination and spontaneity.

Innovation is characterized by adaptability and the ability to mix seemingly incompatible states of being: open attention with focused drive, mindfulness with daydreaming, intuition with rationality, intense rebelliousness with respect for tradition etc. In other words: innovation is an inherently messy process, and experienced innovators have messy brains.

So embrace the messiness

There is so much more to be said, and new research is shedding even more light on what (working) circumstances are conducive to creativity and innovation; if you want to learn more the experienced based practives Semco Style has developed, be sure to check out our training and programs.

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