How can an organization build a sustainable culture of Innovation?\r\n\r\nCan creativity really be taught?\r\n\r\nIs creativity & innovation just about throwing up a lot of ideas?\r\n\r\nHow can a creativity & innovation workshop help the participants on a daily basis?\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u00a0These are four key questions that we often get to discuss with leaders mulling a learning initiative targeted at encouraging creativity and innovation in their organizations.\r\n\r\nFrom our experience of conducting many such interventions of what we call The Innovation Challenge, while there are never 5-easy-steps-to-success, especially while working on such organizational challenges, there are a few things that help make this journey a wee bit easier. Here are a few humble suggestions:\r\n\r\n1) Any such initiative HAS TO start at the Top\r\nSetting an agenda for driving an Innovation agenda \u2013 cannot and should not be done by the L&D (Learning and Development) team. Else, there is a danger that such an initiative quickly waters down to becoming a \u201cnice-to-do\u201d thing. Don\u2019t get me wrong here \u2013 I am not questioning the effectiveness of the L&D teams. But this is not just another \u201clearning intervention\u201d \u2013 encouraging a culture of Innovation means giving people the license to ask a lot of \u201cWhy\u2019s\u201d. Without top management buy-in, this can soon seem disruptive to a business!\r\n\r\nA few commitments needed before such an initiative is actually launched are:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tSenior management buy-in and commitment on \u201cwhy do we need to do this?\u201d\r\n \tA shared vision of \u201cthis is how success will look like\u201d\r\n \tA commitment to stay the course\r\n \tAn Executive sponsor for the initiative\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n2)\u00a0 Address issues that deter a conducive team environment (for Innovation) to germinate\r\nBefore a farmer plants seeds on the ground, he makes sure that the soil is ready for receiving them. Similarly, talking about trying to build \u201ca culture of Innovation\u201d is all good, but a lot of ground work needs to go into preparing the stage for it. A few things that can kill Innovation even before it gets off the ground, and hence areas that organizations would do well to look into are:\r\n\r\n \tTeam dynamics (Silos, Politics, Trust, Complacency, Past success)\r\n \tBusy-ness \u2013 inordinately high focus on the here & now\r\n \tTeam leadership issues (Micromanagement, directive styles, I-know-best syndrome)\r\n \tViewing fun & playfulness at work as a distraction\r\n\r\n3) Arrive at a working, tangible\u00a0 definition of what \u201ccreativity\u201d and \u201cinnovation\u201d mean\r\nWhat is Innovation really in \u201cour\u201d context? Is it the same as \u201cbrain storming\u201d? Is it something that we need to do \u2013 or is it only for the R&D folks? Do we have time to handle all the \u201cideas\u201d that come up?\r\n\r\nA lot of teams preparing to undertake this journey, in our experience \u2013 have a hazy idea of what exactly the term means to the frontline employee on a daily basis. And yet, if this is not clarified \u2013 the \u201cwhy\u201d in people\u2019s head as they participate in the intervention remains unanswered, which in turn brings down the motivation or drive to make such an initiative succeed.\r\n\r\nA few messages that help people find meaning, is when Innovation is projected:\r\n\r\n \tAs something not reserved for the elitist few or only the R&D or Marketing teams\r\n \tAs a \u201cproblem-solving technique\u201d marked by flexibility in thinking. Something that helps people look at day-to-day issues through different lens.\r\n \tAs not just throwing up ideas but taking it through to a logical conclusion\r\n \tAs something more often done collaboratively rather than individually\r\n\r\n4) Put systems in place that keep the conversations alive & ongoing\r\nWhen it comes to lasting organizational initiatives, nothing unfortunately comes easy. Hence, getting an external consultant (like us J) to help put a structure and kick-off the initiative is only the first easy step. Creating a culture however is a much longer endeavor. Critical to this is the question \u2013 \u201cWhat are you doing to keep the buzz and conversations around Innovation going?\u201d\r\n\r\nA few tried and tested tools that organizations have found useful are:\r\n\r\n \tReward & recognition programs\r\n \tNominating Idea champions across all divisions\r\n \tKeeping Innovation dashboards updated\r\n\r\nAs many Gurus in the organizational space now tell us, being \u201cInnovative\u201d is no longer a choice. It is an imperative. What is your organization doing to unleash this imperative?