In our constantly evolving world, today’s achievements are no guarantee of success tomorrow. How do we sustain our momentum? How can we go further, exploring beyond the comfort zone of our previous accomplishments? How can we foster innovation in our companies?
When companies wish to stand out and be recognized for their innovative practices, experience has shown that their managers and supervisors must adopt an attitude of openness. Innovation begins in the mind, with a vision. The most stunning creations start as dreams—dreams that the innovator fulfills one step at a time.
Obstacles to Innovation
The obstacles to innovation in a company often come from within: a negative work environment, a competitive atmosphere or a lack of influence with management can all prevent employees’ ideas from being implemented. Negative factors like these pervade the workplace insidiously, stifling new initiatives.
“The worst scenario is when management encourages employees to propose ideas and then doesn’t take the time to listen properly or doesn’t allow any possibility of trying new plans. Employees become discouraged if their suggestions are constantly rejected. Marie-Josée Lareau gives examples of typical negative reactions: “Yes, but we already tried that, and it didn’t work …, that won’t work in our sector …, we’re too small to try that …, IT’S AGAINST THE RULES.”
The objections can be endless, and often managers don’t even realize how unresponsive they are to suggestions. Ramon Vullings and Marc Heleven’s book Not Invented Here pokes fun at this negativity, presenting a game of Bingo that features the most common objections.
Room for Innovation
Marie-Josée Lareau explains that for managers or supervisors to avoid falling into this trap, they must make sure to give employees clear information about what is and is not possible. Leaders should explain the company’s vision and purpose and then encourage staff to use their imagination within this well-defined context.
It is also essential for leaders to show continued confidence in their staff and to learn to give employees their full attention, taking the time to listen carefully, with an open mind.
On May 4, 2017, Marie-Josée will be giving a course in creative problem solving at Communautique. Sign up now to reserve your place!