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Breaking Creative & Innovative Thinking Out of Their Boxes Through Creative Problem-Solving

Happy Leap Day, all!  May we all make great use of this "extra day" we get every four years on the 29th of February!  EnJoy!

The new combined Kowabunga! & Riding the Wave Training & Development website is still in the final stages of getting its bugs worked out, but will be returning soon with new musings and resources.  In the meantime, inspired by a recent conversation and having missed being in touch, I wanted to say "Aloha!" and share a few thoughts from my Sabbatical perch (Oh, that it were from the beach…).

Creative Thinking as Solution Finding

In August 2011, I wrote a post on the different forms of innovation, “What Does Innovation Mean? Many Things.” http://ridingthewave.net/2011/08/.

In brief, creative, divergent, or “out of the box” thinking, as it is so often called, has been relegated in the minds of many as "what marketing/ advertising, or maybe some R&D folks do," versus what it actually is, which is: 

 

  1. The partPhoto of gold compass-like instrument with red needle pointing toward the word "Quality" and black needle toward work "Productivity."ner of critical thinking.
  2. The gears for creative problem-solving.
  3. The foundation of continuous improvement.
  4. It also is a key component forthe scenario planning that all organizations should be practicing as precursors to their strategic planning processes.
  5. And yes, of course, creative thinking also results in more obvious innovations in product, service, and market development.
  6. Creative thinking is also inextricably linked with cultivating an engaged workforceIn a September 2011 post, “A Creative Look at Employee Engagement by Explania,” http://ridingthewave.net/2011/09/ *

This last point is one that remains especially difficult for many in leadership and management roles to see.  It is highly improbable that one will find employees willing to give 110% unless they feel they have a voice and input into the creative problem solving, solutions, and continuous improvement processes. 

Why would this be?  Simply put, when management doesn’t demonstrate genuine interest in the input and ideas of employees by creating mechanisms to capture, vet, and implement the viable ones, staff:

a) do not feel respected, and

Whiteboard drawing of happy employees climbing success mountain toward shared vision. b) feel frustrated when they see ways that processes and services could be improved and feel unable to make a difference.

Having no ownership in the process, they do not feel inspired to proactively go above and beyond in their duties and may simply be biding their time until they can work elsewhere.  Most of us have either witnessed the dynamics of an apathetic workforce or know this from personal experience having worked in companies where we were told, either directly, or indirectly, that we were “not being paid to think beyond our pay grades.” 

And everyone loses out, from customers to shareholders, from benefiting from their frontline problem-solving and continuous process improvement ideas, even before they make their exits from their respective organizations.  

So, the next time someone says, “We don’t have time for creative and innovative thinking" — try to help him or her to think beyond the box s/he may have placed around those forms of cognition.   Insert terms like: “creative problem solving,” “continuous process improvement,” “comprehensive, lasting solutions,” and “engaged workforce,”… And then ask them whether there is time for that.  ???

 

I look forward to further exploration with you on the links between creative thinking, innovation, best management practices, and organizational success when Kowabunga! returns soon on a regular basis.  And in the meantime, "Aloha!" 

 

*Check out the great short educational video on that post:  http://www.explania.com/en/animations/detail/how-to-use-employee-engagement-to-boost-your-business.

You can also catch the delightful one-minute video depicted in these photos on "Thinking Outside the Box" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ_7gUP42Bk&feature=related.  

Other short, brilliant videos on creative and innovative thinking can be viewed on Kowabunga's post from February 24, 2011: http://ridingthewave.net/2011/02/

Asterik figure dring race car it made out of the box.

 

 

Read more…

Screen shot 2011-09-15 at 10.50.04 PM

Enjoy this three-minute creative educational video by Explania on the many benefits of employee engagement and how organizations can cultivate it.  http://www.explania.com/en/animations/detail/how-to-use-employee-engagement-to-boost-your-business

As “illustrated” in this video, "engaged" employees means those who regularly go the “extra mile” because they carry energy and passion for the organizational vision and take great pride in their work and the contributions they make towards the mission and goals.  They take initiative and serve as examples to other staff. They tend to have stronger relationships with customers, building sales and boosting reputation, and they promote the organization to others.

Sadly, even among the organizations that take care of the basic employee satisfaction areas (fair pay, reasonable management, and reasonable working situations), according to the statistical research cited by Explania, engagement is as low as 20% in the average organization.  However, in innovative organizations, the number of engaged employees is eight times greater than those that are average.  The video attributes recognition, leadership, education and professional opportunities as drivers for engagement.

All good, and spot on!… The only lacking I see is that there is no mention of a) what makes organizations innovative or b) the role of employees’ contributions of ideas in any of the areas discussed on this blog: process improvements, marketing, services, or products.

What this clever little video does not mention is that employees need to know their ideas and opinion are valued in order to feel respected in order be willing to or have the option to fully engage all of their talents, and for the organization to be an innovative one.  –The authors probably meant that as well, but the oversight was probably a simple “slip of the pen.”  😉

Cheers!

Screen shot 2011-09-15 at 10.39.06 PM

Spider web The next post will look at collaboration, which, as has been previously stated, is lifeblood to creative problem-solving and innovation in organizations.  Fruitful collaboration can only be built on a foundation of trust, and that, only from authentic relationships.

To the latter point, I want to start by sharing some poetry and prose by two writers which speaks to the humanity that connects us in our day-to-day working relationships, and the need to affirm this.  For me, as for many, I believe that connection is related to spirit or spirituality, which I define as: that which is invisible to the eye, but which binds us to life, to our creative spirit, and to one another.

In Indian culture, "namaste" means, "I honor the divinity within you."

The Hindus greet one another by bowing with folded hand against the breastbone.  This miniceremony means: “I salute the divinity within you.”

No workplace can be truly alive until we see the divinity within one another, until we experience behind the breastbone the breath of life, until we insist that our work will not be the humdrum product of a sleeping spirit but a glorious monument to who we really are.                   

John Cowan
from The Common Table 

 

Threads

Sometimes you just connect,
like that,
no big thing maybe
but something beyond the usual business stuff.
It come and goes quickly
so you have to pay attention,
a change in the eyes
when you ask about the family,
a pain flickering behind the statistics
about a boy and a girl in school,
or about seeing them every other Sunday.
An older guy talks about his bride,
a little affectation after twenty-five years.
A hot-eyed achiever laughs before you want him to.
Someone tells about his wife’s job
or why she quit working to stay home.
An older joker needs another laugh on the way
to retirement.
A woman says she spends a lot of her salary
on an au pair
and a good one is hard to find
but worth it because there’s nothing more important
than the baby.
Listen.
In every office
you hear the threads of love and joy and fear and guilt,
the cries for celebration and reassurance,
and somehow you know that connecting those threads
is what you are supposed to do
and business takes care of itself.

Jame A. Autry
from Love & Profit

Giraffe licking squirrel

 

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