Managers can create the conditions for innovation by encouraging a culture of being creative—not just productive—and razing barriers that stifle individual expression.
- Get less formal. Foster a culture characterized by a tolerance for failure and a willingness to experiment. Involve everyone and welcome great ideas from everywhere. Make sure everyone feels free to speak out: people will own solutions if they’ve been involved in the decision-making.
- Simplify the workplace. Look at things with a fresh eye, as an outsider might—sometimes you’re too close to things to see the truth. Drop unnecessary work, and explore what routines can be phased out or improved. Work with coworkers to eliminate extraneous loops and redundancies if your organization has far too many rules, approvals, and forms. Streamline decision-making.
- Defy tradition. If no one can recall why your team does something a particular way, the task is likely more convoluted than it needs to be. Hold a ‘why do we do it that way?’ challenge. Invite colleagues from different teams to come in and look at things in a detached way. Figure out what’s relevant and necessary (and what’s not) and frequently reevaluate the priority list as new things are added.
Idea for Impact: Managing for creativity is a conscious effort in experimentation.