Effective managers are always attentive to opportunities to ‘do it better’ whether this is an increase in performance or simply making the current job easier or less stressful. To innovate and creatively implement change, managers need to have skills which support a work culture of innovation.
Participation – Empowerment – Collaboration
Managers need to create a culture of active participation that engenders an empowered team of people who regularly collaborate on ideas, actions and approaches. Without that work culture, a meeting focused on innovation will likely fall ‘flat’; only some will participate while others may feel drowned out or not prepared to respond. Managers need approaches which maximise staff involvement before innovation is realistic.
A range of internal issues, leadership practices, and management culture greatly affect the process of creativity and innovation. Are all staff encouraged to offer ideas and opinions and recognised for doing so? Are ideas blocked by team resistors, history or senior management? Before embarking on a creative journey with a team, managers need to assess and address these communication barriers.
Priorities – Internal or External
Innovation may come from the shop floor, the part-timer or a quiet achiever; these are internal opportunities for innovation. However, innovation may also come from external organisations in a similar or disparate field. To manage a specific innovation, how much internal and external focus should the manager consider with the team? High Performance works with managers to help them reflect and plan the best approach for leading innovation and developing a creative work environment.
We use a range of models, tools, and approaches to support managers to lead creative discussions and to help their team innovate. The Kolb Cycle below is an example of one model that we use to help teams innovate.
The Approach to Innovation
For many managers, innovation and managing creativity are broad and challenging topics. High Performance sets a path of incremental improvements for these managers, rather than asking them to come up with major new ideas in the first instance. We teach and develop ‘brainstorming’ techniques using a range of creative tools. We help managers look outside their area or even outside their organisation for new ideas and inspiration. We develop managers’ collaboration skills to engage staff, perhaps informally at first, with their role in continuous improvement.
Innovation Links to Change Management
Many staff become bored with creative workshops as they perceive little outcome or no real actions (just another meeting). Managers need to apply the process of trying a new idea, monitoring what works and what does not, adjusting the approach, and trying again. This persistence will reach the desired outcome, and the process will finalise the “new way”. Managers must move from innovation/creative brainstorming to actual actions linked to change management practices. If they do not, they will lose momentum and staff involvement.