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Innovation and the Workplace

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There
are a plethora of articles written about Innovation
in the Workplace
. As each workplace is a combination of its own unique
qualities, each organisation will have a unique formula for fostering
innovation peculiar to it's own culture. This article is not about reinventing
the wheel on Innovation Best Practise but rather about drawing attention to the
possibilities.
Innovation
needs the backing of top-level management if it is to be taken seriously or
have any chance of success. This means an investment of time, which usually
means an investment of dollars. Research out of Harvard University suggests
that Top Down support for Innovation produces stronger results if the CEOs and
Senior Managers take part in company conversations, workshops, seminars or
think sessions at the ground level. Not surprisingly, companies
where innovation was valued had hands on leaders ' leaders who got involved in
the creative work.
Harvey Sanchez, CEO of ClickView, a video streaming service for schools in Australia believes, 'Your ideas create your future. Listening to your
customers is critical'and we empower our people. It's even OK to have a crap
idea'. 
The company has
a Shoot Shoot Boom process to evaluate the merit of an idea. The team will
focus on an idea and keep 'shooting' at it. If the idea survives the initial firing,
the company throws resources at it. They trial the idea and then trial it
again. If it fails, company policy is to learn the lessons of that failure and
if it succeeds they really 'go for it'.
There is a
common thread underlying many of the top Innovative Companies. All clearly
recognize that when times are tough, innovation is essential.
Traditionally
though, the harder times are, the more likely an organisation is to adopt a
conservative approach and therefore less likely to appropriately resource any
innovation process. 
Just when we
need to be investing more in generating new ideas and actualising those ideas,
we become concerned with cost cutting and conservative approaches. At this
point it is usually those with the least to lose that take the biggest risks
and have the greatest chance of success.
From a business
perspective, it is important to have Innovation written into KPIs and aligned
with the strategic business of the organisation. This is often enough to step
up the innovation process into more than just a tick and flick activity.
Measurement can take the form of increases in productivity, an increase in the
bottom line or perhaps an increase in employee engagement.
One thing is
certain ' nothing will happen unless the innovation process is supported. That
means weekly team thinking sessions, applauding the courage to have a go and
possibly fail, collaborative approaches, resources made available to develop
the ideas, permission to Think Big and engagement with and listening to
customers and clients. If you sell a product or service, take note of your
customers' body language, of the words they use, the expressions on their
faces.  Are they happy or frustrated,
satisfied or disgruntled? Is there a problem that you can solve for them? Solve
the problem and you have succeeded in creative innovation.

And if you're
fortunate enough to have employees that ask for permission to give something a go,
say YES! Who knows what goals you could score.

Christina Gerakiteys is an ideation, innovation and creativity expert. She is the Founder of Ideation At Work, dedicated to opening hearts and minds to possibility. 

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