The term innovation can sometimes bring forth a sense of dread, as it usually leads to change, and change can be scary. Who knows what the future holds when you change things up from your normal routine? But change is an important piece of growth for your company, and innovation is the match to light that fire.
So, how do you innovate? You’ve heard of out-of-the-box thinking, but I believe you really have to take that idea a step further: Forget there is a box. Forget that there are any boundaries for yourself or your company. Without boundaries, the space that you allow your brain to be in is a space where anything is possible; a space that fosters innovation. This unbound environment also needs to be conveyed when obtaining ideas from others in your company.
When you ask people for ideas, they are encumbered, either consciously or unconsciously, by certain factors. These could be self-awareness factors, such as whether someone else will think they’re stupid if they throw out that wild idea. They could be organizational, for example whether the company has the means to support that idea. They could be market related. Do the right market conditions exist? Will the existing customer base support the idea? No matter what the blockages are, for now, forget all of them.
To create an environment of unbridled innovation, you need to be forceful with these steps. For example, remind people in a brainstorming session that there are absolutely no bad ideas and any one of them could morph into a game changer. Activities such as conducting idea generation surveys allow people to send in anonymous ideas to solve a problem or generate growth in a specific service area. Walt Disney went as far as creating three rooms in a row for his employees. The latter two were for idea assessment and planning, but that first room was for innovation without any constraints or evaluation. Amazing ideas came out of that three-room process.