Each year millions of people worldwide learn some kind of creativity process. However, within a few months, many people stop it. Why is that? Because the process is flawed? Or because of something else? We will explore how to ensure that your innovation training will succeed in your company.
All Creative Processes Follow the Same Pattern
Today’s most popular innovation methods are all essentially similar. This is because the natural instinct to create and innovate is part of the human DNA. By taking the natural process and assigning guidelines, innovators have developed a variety of different methods. Some of the most popular are Creative Problem Solving, Design Thinking, Synectics, Kepner Tregoe, De Bono Thinking Systems, and Lean Six Sigma. While there are many similarities, it is important to use all processes with discipline. These let people repeat the pattern successfully, over and over.
To create sustainable innovation, we recommend a process that follows this format:
1) Articulate a goal
2) Learn everything about the goal (domain expertise)
3) Think through and and examine the problem
4) Develop solutions, try them out, refine them, and perfect the final solution
5) Implement the solution
6) Make policies and procedures so it can be repeated
The most time-tested, robust and proven process is an evolution of Creative Problem Solving, the Universal Creative Process. You can read a good overview of the many methods here on LinkedIn.
To Succeed at Innovation, Companies Must Create a Culture of Innovation
Regardless of your method, if the organization does not support innovation, innovation efforts fail. When this happens, people blame the process and look for a “better way.” However, this is a fool’s errand. The process is not the problem.
The problem is that creative thinkers need a culture of innovation. Building this culture requires effort. But the payoff is enormous. Differentiating. Profit-generating. Employee engaging. When done properly, academics call it a culture of innovation. Wall Street calls it a profit engine. Employees call it fulfilling to be a part of. Executives call it the place I want to do my very best at. Above all, companies with a culture of innovation rapidly adapt to changes in technology, market dynamics and its competitors.
The 4 Key Parts of Innovation Culture: People, Process, Policy and Climate
We know how to build and sustain an innovation culture. In short, senior managers must encourage innovation in four areas: People, Process, Policy and Climate.
You can learn more here. Above all, if you ignore one of the areas, the culture collapses. For example, an organization might invest in “People” by training all its employees in the Universal Creative Process. But, they may ignore putting in policies that encourage creative success and failure. For that reason, its employees will not use what they learned. Consequently, the process fails.
But don’t expect a quick-fix. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Read more.
Will Your Organization Be Able to Compete?
Over the next 5-20 years, successful organizations will all have a culture of innovation. We saw this with the “Quality Movement.” Today, every successful organization focuses on continually improving quality. (Think Lean Six Sigma, Good Manufacturing Process, Good Lab Practice, etc.). Similarly, future leading innovation companies will focus on sustaining a culture of innovation. Will your organization be able to compete with these innovation leaders?