Only by venturing out into the unknown do we enable new ideas and new results to take shape.
The future of your organization will, in large measure, be determined by your ability to innovate and change. The creative process, if properly employed, will allow you to move ahead — perhaps in quantum leaps. Here are some strategies you can use to become more creative yourself and encourage those around you to do so too.
Look for new ideas constantly. Search the Internet, read books and magazines, attend exhibitions and workshops.
Keep your mind open to ideas from unexpected places. Allow your mind to wander, especially in places you do not normally visit. Keep a pen and pad to jot down new ideas.
If you work with critical people, keep your ideas to yourself until you have had a chance to formulate them fully. With each idea, think about the benefits, drawbacks, and costs. Anticipate and find solutions to possible objections.
Don't exclude any ideas by deciding in advance whether others will accept them. Concern yourself with selling the idea only as a last step. If you try to sell it before you're ready, you may inhibit your imagination and creativity.
Don't always expect to get home runs. Look for small improvements rather than major breakthroughs. Don't put undue pressure on yourself. As you become more innovative and your confidence grows, so will the size of your ideas.
Ask your boss for a budget for some level of experimentation, including time and materials. This will send a strong signal to you and your colleagues about the importance the company places on innovation.
Permit yourself to make mistakes. Consider them a stepping stone on the way to success.
Be persistent. Sometimes the skeptics jump in quickly, especially if they know you will be easily discouraged. Stay with your idea if you are convinced of its value.
Be open to the ideas of others, and they will become more supportive of you too. Be open and responsive to new ideas. Listen to be influenced rather than concentrating on developing a rebuttal.
If you find it difficult to assess the merits of your idea, find someone who can and who may become a spokesperson. Often it's not what you say but how you say it. Some people have a talent for being persuasive.
Encourage the boss to make tools of creativity freely available. A flip chart in your work area can be a place to post new ideas as they occur to people. People can also use Post-it Notes to jot down their ideas, and then leave them on the flip chart on the way to a break.
Look outside your department or organization for new ideas that could work for you. While you may get ideas from similar work areas within your organization, you will usually find more innovative solutions in other organizations and industries. These ideas can be found by
reading trade journals;
interviewing new employees who worked for an organization that had similar work processes;
attending conferences and shows, where you can network with people from other organizations;
getting information from your trade organization;
scouring the Internet;
using Internet chat features for sharing and researching new ideas.
At your departmental meetings, take a leadership role by challenging your colleagues to think more of reasons why a new idea would work, rather than reasons why it would not.