This article is a follow up to my previous article “The 3 Real Obstacles to Innovation – Part 1”

In Part 1 I wrote about the importance of businesses to be innovative to not only achieve growth but also to be sustainable.

I also wrote about how I believe Australia’s National Innovation & Science Agenda doesn’t include what I believe are the real obstacles that are getting in the way of businesses being more innovative.

Innovation starts with people that want to move first. People that aren’t satisfied with the status quo and believe that there is a better way to do something. They want to do something different so they search for, are open to and come up with an idea.

In a “Learning organisation” these ideas are usually a culmination of formal and informal learning together with collaborating with others. The best ideas are built on someone else’s contribution on an area of the business that can be better.

People can be very creative, if there is an obstacle to what they want they usually find a way through it, or around it.

An innovative culture creates a working environment which stimulates this creativity and encourages innovation practices.

So once an idea has been thought of what are the real obstacles that can get in the way of an idea turning into innovation?

I wrote about one of the Real obstacles that may be getting in the way of innovation, in Part 1 which was the Fear of Failure.

Overcoming the fear of failure isn’t easy however if you do get the courage to share your idea there may be another obstacle that awaits you.

2.  It isn’t a “Good” idea

What makes a “Good” idea?

Firstly it needs to align with your company’s vision and values and is congruent with your organisation’s brand. It needs to be a good fit for your customers, your employees and your stakeholders.

Secondly it needs to provide enough value to the business for it to be worth it. So that the costs of implementation is outweighed by the benefit of improved outcomes that it will bring.

You also need the right people in your organisation to support it. This could start with your team and leader and extend to other levels of leadership or to a board etc. It needs to be supported by the ultimate decision makers.

What obstacles may you need to overcome to get the right people to listen?

Bias

We all see people through our own “lens”, our own perspective. How we see people most certainly can create a bias towards their ideas.

Some leaders may look at an idea through a perspective of “why it wouldn’t work”. They compare new ideas to previous ideas that didn’t work rather than look at why it didn’t work last time and look towards executing it better.

Other leaders may be more likely to risk implementing something new as they’re focused on growth strategies.

Before presenting your ideas to the right person, run it past people who are happy to be critical about it. Not your spouse, friends or your colleagues but someone who is likely to give you open and honest feedback that can help make your idea better. Ideally someone who you don’t have a strong relationship with and is likely to have less bias and be more objective.

Groupthink

“Groupthink occurs when a team strive for consensus within their group. Some people may set aside their own personal beliefs and/or adopt the opinions of the rest of the group.”

Groups can get into a habit of thinking. Using the same thinking techniques when solving a problem, using the same solutions to problems that have worked in the past.

To get out of this habit of thinking we need to expand our knowledge of what we already know and use new knowledge to help us find new ways to solve a problem. To be truly innovative we need to seek new ways of solving similar problems. To do something that’s really different we need to search beyond what we already know into what we don’t know.

More ideas

Our first ideas are based on our conventional thinking, what we already know. If we believe our thinking is done, and that we have the solution to the problem then we stop searching for new ideas.

Learning, networking, collaborating and asking questions are just a few ways we can search for something new.

There’s no Eureka moments for good ideas. It takes a lot of bad ideas to get to a good one. The more ideas you have the more chance you have to stumble on a really good idea.

A Process

So now we have lots of ideas how do we determine if it’s truly a great idea that’s worth pursuing? That’s its something that people want or need?

We need a process that tests the ideas to ensure it truly adds value.

Does it improve:

  • Efficiencies
  • Staff Engagement
  • Safety
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Quality
  • Workflows
  • Business goals
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Competitiveness

The process needs to involve testing the ideas with a group of diverse people that have different skills and talents. People from different fields that use their expertise to evaluate and make further improvements on the idea. Pre-defined criteria is agreed to and applied to the process to ensure the best idea is selected. A facilitator is useful to help keep the group focused and on track, ensuring conversations keep moving forward and that the process is followed.

Using a pre-defined “Critical Thinking” process in evaluating the ideas helps reduce any bias while helping to evolve the creative process.

A Critical Thinking process helps turn ideas into Innovation

Look out for Part 3 of this series soon.

Contact us if you would like to discover how we can help you implement Innovation in your workplace.