Innovation Outcomes Brochure Idea Generation & Evaluation _____________________________________________________________________________________________
The Bottom Line on Creativity
Creativity and innovation are clearly not "optional" in today’s highly competitive world--they're vital.Most experts agree that organizations have hit a point of diminishing returns in their efforts to simply compete on the basis of cost or efficiency.Many industries have become commoditized or are working diligently to not become commoditized.
With the need to generate revenue through new products or services—or new applications of products and services—most companies have concluded that they need to encourage “outside-the-box” thinking with regard to product or service enhancements or the creation of new products and services. And this is not only true of companies in the private sector. It's true for not-for-profit organizations, who also have to aggressively compete these days—certainly for funding—but in some cases, also for customers.And in still other scenarios, not-for-profit organizations are having to compete with for-profit organizations. So how, specifically, do creativity and innovation translate to tangible or bottom-line results? __________________________________________________________________________________________
Monetizing and Leveraging Creativity It is a commonly-held belief that we use only a small portion of our brains’ capability and capacity.So we have to ask, “Could the unused portion of our brains that is largely untapped, be our ‘creative’ brains?”And how, exactly, would we tap that potential?
Since the discoveries of Sr. Isaac Newton, science has strongly upheld the use of rational or analytical thinking (sometimes referred to as ”left-brain thinking”) as a primary method of problem solving and idea generation.Educational systems—at least in the Western world—have also focused primarily on rational, logical thinking, inadvertently inhibiting creative thinking through a rigid adherence to “scientific” methods of inquiry, hypothesis formulation, and research.Many creativity consultants believe that this traditional approach is somewhat lopsided, and can serve as a major inhibitor of new insights, perspectives, and processes. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Creativity/Innovation Connection So much is written today about distinctions between creativity and innovation and between invention and innovation, that we could be tempted to “unlink” these important processes.
We view creativity, in its most basic form, as the kind of creativity that begins with creative problem solving and idea generation--on an individual level.But let us be clear, at the onset, about how we define “creativity” in general.We don’t limit our definition of it to the kind of creativity that's often associated with legendary historical figures like Leonard da Vinci, Thomas Edison, or Albert Einstein. We believe that. althoughcreativity generally starts at the individual level, the diversity that comes with highly functioning teams can often leverage diversity to produce richer outcomes than any one individual would be capable of producing on his or her own.
We believe that today’s diverse organizations and stakeholders require multi-faceted approaches, and we assist clients in facilitating approaches and perspectives that leverage the collective competencies of individuals and teams.We do this through brainstorming and other idea generation processes that, through iterative processes, allow people to build upon the contributions of individual participants. This not only yield's rich outcomes, but simultaneously also lays the groundwork for buy-in and sponsorship of the change that often accompanies creativity and innovation.
Brainstorming--and other forms of idea generation--can appear to be more of a fun exercise than the grueling kind of planning that is often associated with successful enterprises. However, we know from experience, that the task of leveraging diverse ideas, perspectives, and thinking processes--and then sorting through those ideas, for game changing strategies, is no easy task. Organizations usually conclude that they need skilled facilitators--and third parties with "a fresh set of eyes" to facilitate. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Using our Brains to Enable Creativity
Most neuroscientists and creativity consultants are well aware of the brain’s innate self-organizing function.What do we mean by that?Our brains are constructed in a way that allows them to automatically sort data as it’s taken in.The brain interprets and classifies input in the same way that a file clerk in an office would. It looks for similar information "already on file," and then matches new information to information that already exists.Our brains, in effect, instantly “recognize” information and instantly accelerate the sorting and filing process so that we can continue to take in additional information in a highly efficient way.
But here's the problem with this kind of "efficiency:" Although this process works well on a primitive level—and has enabled our basic survival for thousands of years—it tends to be a major creativity inhibitor. Why?Because whenever a new thought enters, our brain tries to quickly find what it can match it to so that it can continue taking in more information.The result is obvious: New information, ideas, and perspectives sometimes get incorrectly matched with existing information and are quickly filed away before they can be evaluated and applied. As mentioned before, our current educational systems in the Western world adds to this, in that it also inhibits creativity in other ways.
However, by slowing down or even halting this process, we can essentially “trick the brain” to think differently.We, at Innovation Outcomes, do this by teaching clients how to “temporarily re-wire” the brain and short circuit its automatic, instinctual, and habitual thinking processes.New stimulus can then provide new perspectives and new context; however, it is still important to know that idea generation facilitation is only a part of a larger process why which we help individuals, teams, and organizations think outside the box. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Preconditions for Creativity and Innovation
Preserving the status quo
most often feels safer than attempting new methods, approaches, or
behaviors, so we can think of creativity and innovation as demanding a
certain element of courage.We believe this is effectively
summed up in a quote by an anonymous author who said, “People cannot
discover new oceans until they have the courage to lose sight of the
shore.”We also like the famous quote by Helen Keller, who said, “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
So does innovation have to be a daring adventure?Not necessarily.There
are creativity and innovation consultants who argue that game changing strategies
and their implementation can only
be brought about by breakthrough innovation, but we believe there is no single method of creativity--and no single or "right way" of innovating.In some instances, radical change is needed, but in many others, renovation rather than innovation, may be the most appropriate course of action. And creativity is a precondition for both incremental and breakthrough or disruptive innovation.
We know that strong portfolio management and stage-gating processes can ensure
the appropriate allocation or reallocation of resources, and successful innovators utilize these methods to manage risk. But are there other common themes among successful innovators? Absolutely! Organizations that are recognized for being successful innovators have cultures that allow for and encourage breaking with tradition, to explore new ideas and approaches.These organizations reward and recognize employees who bravely put forth ideas. Equally important, they know that effective teams can usually product more elegant and creative solutions than they could as individuals, so investment in team development is high. These successful innovators also ensure that their leaders are capable of leading creatively, which includes the ability to encourage and reinforce creative behaviors in others. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Creativity Inhibitors and Enablers
We think that a quote from Dr. Curtis Carlson, CEO of SRI International (formerly known as the Stanford Research Institute) says it all, about creativity inhibitors: "Cynics are the mass murderers of ideas and all ideas can
A harsh statement? Yes, indeed. Does this mean that
cynics have consciously set out to murder ideas? Most likely not. Most times with the best of intentions--and a goal
of fostering a professional, no-nonsense environment--organizations knowingly, or unknowingly, restrict play in the workplace. Many
consultants, including several of us, have held senior leadership roles in large
corporations—or worked at prestigious consulting firms—that encouraged
standardized, time-proven approaches.And although, many
organizations espoused entrepreneurial, or intrepreneurial approaches,
they often lacked the experience or know-how to manage out-of-the-box, entrepreneurial or intrepreneurial thinkers.(See our Top 10 Inhibitors.)
Given our personal experiences with these kinds of organizational cultures, we underwent major changes in mindsets and behaviors, when we made the decision to help organizations to become more creative--and to incorporate "play" into work.As a part of our own personal transformations, we firmly believe
that play is the ultimate liberator--and the ultimate enabler. And we see that the
fostering of an easy flow of ideas--through play and many other
methods--is essential to fostering creativity, and for monetizing and
leveraging creative ideas and approaches for competitive advantage.
Having extensive personal experience in organizations that fostered--and knowingly or unknowingly--inhibited, we work with clients to unleash creativity and to enable value creation,
while simultaneously helping individuals, teams, and organizations
construct risk management and portfolio management initiatives that
ensure value preservation. __________________________________________________________________________________________
More About Creativity Enablers
We find that innovation
leaders, such as GE and Proctor & Gamble, seem to instinctively
know that many creative styles are needed to understand current customer
needs; to anticipate future needs of customers; and to address the
complex issues and problems that are the hallmark of today’s workplaces.But diverse thinking is only one component in building and sustaining a culture of innovation.We
help clients identify and leverage creativity enablers through process
redesign, creative and comprehensive planning processes, culture change,
leadership development, team development, and total reward systems that
reinforce creative and strategic thinking. (See our Top 10 Enablers.)
Other critical concepts, such as "green
fielding" or "green housing" are key in building a culture that
supports the kind of creative thinking that leads to innovation. Too
often good ideas aren't encouraged, acknowledged, or acted upon. As we
all know, new ideas involve change, and most of us are hard-wired to
resist change as a basic survival mechanism. We teach clients how to
protect and nurture new ideas; translate good ideas
into plans; and develop and implement plans in ways that ensure ideas are transformed into actionable items. As a final step in "applying
creativity," we work with clients to establish systems that ensure effective follow-up, recognition and reward, and accountability. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Diversity as Still Another Creativity Enabler
Diversity, too, is a key creativity enabler.We agree with what writer Nicholas Negoponte once wrote:“New ideas come from differences.They come from having different perspectives and juxtaposing different theories." Diversity of human thought at individual and team levels is ultimately what fuels and sustains creativity and innovation.But diversity isn’t only about differences in race, culture, gender, or generation.It’s
also about different thinking styles, different methods of solving
problems, and different ways of making decisions.
Most important, diversity is about different creative
abilities and different talents.We believe that a single variety of
creativity is a myth, and we work "creatively" with clients, to leverage
all forms of creativity needed to achieve and maintain competitive advantage. __________________________________________________________________________________________
are many factors involved in creating a culture of innovation,
but organizations' abilities to foster and reward creativity are
critical. When organizations put a priority on creativity, and maximize
their efforts to leverage it, these are some of the tangible and intangible outcomes:
- financial and other gains - improved responses to organizational change - effective communication of goals, objectives, and performance expectations - ongoing transparency that enhances goal achievement - compensation that's aligned with results - development plans that are directly linked to individual and organizational needs - high levels of employee engagement
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ To read case studies about how we've helped clients generate and evaluate ideas, click here.