Organizations are constantly challenged with ways to spur innovation. To remain competitive, they must continue to evolve their product offerings in order to retain existing customers and win new ones.
The most valuable employees are those who can use their creativity to drive innovation. The fact is that most businesses and individuals already have the skills needed to come up with creative solutions and innovative products. Let’s examine some of the common myths associated with creativity and innovation and realize the opportunities we already have in front of us.
Myth #1: Creativity is unattainable to me. We have a tendency to build up innovative products and ideas as something almost unattainable – levels of thinking and development that we could never achieve. The reality is that only a small percentage of the creative solutions fall into the “revolutionary” category – game-changers that alter their respective industry. The vast majority of innovation comes in the form of “evolutionary” solutions – those which are built off existing ideas.
Regardless of the type of innovation your organization pursues, it’s important to understand that creative solutions rarely pop into mind out of the blue. Innovation is more of a process that requires industry experience, understanding of the problem, and hard work.
Myth #2: Failure is not an option. Like it or not, our culture tends to condition us to adopt a perfectionist’s mentality. In our haste to see the final result, we are too quick to label mistakes and setbacks as failures. This can cause us to become afraid of failure, which is the exact opposite of the innovator’s mentality.
An artist understands that setbacks are part of the creative process. Before a painting is sold or put up on display, the artwork itself undergoes many revisions. Often, a canvas gets repainted many times before the final form is revealed. The same can be true with new ideas in business. If your organization is willing to allow ideas to evolve, you will learn that mistakes are often stepping stones to success.
Myth #3: There’s only one solution. Much like our aversion to failure, we are often conditioned to believe that there is only one answer to any question. Once an answer is discovered, we are encouraged to abandon any further consideration.
In many cases, it is unwise to look for just one answer. Some ideas that seem exceptional at conception often fall apart when subjected to a detailed analysis. In order to build a foundation of innovation, you have to expect some ideas to fall through. This is why it’s important to seek as many good ideas as possible. By doing this, you will significantly increase your chances of turning your ideas into realities.
Myth #4: Only certain types of people are creative. Certain types of jobs – artists, advertisers, and designers – are synonymous with creativity. Other jobs, particularly in the business community, are associated with non-creative types. These generalizations depend upon how you view creativity and innovation.
In their simplest forms, creativity and innovation are about problems solving. While some of us have honed our skills more than others, we are all perfectly capable of coming up with solutions and spurring innovation. And, with the right environment of encouragement, the next great idea could come from one of your most unsuspecting employees.
Myth #5: Creative people are eager to share their ideas. Even the most dynamic and innovative employees are unlikely to express their ideas if the culture in which they work doesn’t value their contributions. Organizations that are quick to dismiss new ideas with “that’s too expensive” or “that will never work” are dissuading the free flow of ideas.
By taking the time to explore new ideas, you send the signal that your employees are valuable assets in your organization. Be conscious of all verbal and non-verbal signals that may discourage employees from speaking up and sharing their ideas.