It’s also become clear that the process of innovation benefits greatly from diversity. It’s become clear that diversity is beneficial to the innovation process. And that calls for major doses of creativity. Although many leaders believe creativity is too difficult to manage, it is possible to do so.
It’s true that you can’t manage creativity. Creativity can be managed, say innovation leaders and experts who participated in a 2008 Harvard Business School colloquium. Among their recommendations for fostering the conditions in which creativity flourishes:
- Stop thinking of yourself as the wellspring of ideas that employees execute. Instead, elicit and champion others’ ideas.
- Open your organization to diverse perspectives—by getting people of different disciplines, backgrounds, and areas of expertise to share their thinking.
- Know when to impose controls on the creative process (such as during the commercialization phase) and when not to (during early-idea generation).
Drawing on the Right Minds
The first priority of leadership is to get the right people to do the right work at the right time. When the leader recasts the role of employees, it starts the engagement. Instead of just blindly following orders from management, employees need to be more imaginative.
To enhance organizational creativity, consider these practices:
Tap Ideas from All Ranks
Elicit ideas from people throughout your organization. Google’s founders tracked the progress of ideas that originated from them versus ideas that came from the ranks, and found that the latter category was more successful.
If you want people to contribute ideas, make it safe for them to fail. This way, they won’t be afraid to try new things, and you’ll get more innovative ideas as a result. The main point is to try new things constantly, fail frequently, and learn a lot from the experience. Encourage people to speak up or express themselves without fear of punishment or humiliation.
Further engage people by being an appreciative audience. Questions about a project and sincere recognition can provide more motivation than money.
Open Your Company to Diverse Perspectives
When people with different backgrounds and perspectives come together to solve a problem, they are more likely to come up with an innovative solution. Diversity enhances creativity not only between individuals, but also within the mind of an individual. When problems require people to draw on their different realms of knowledge, those with multiple social identities (for example, being both Asian and American, or female and an engineer) tend to be more creative.
The lesson? Avoid suppressing parts of people’s identity. Try to create a work environment where female engineers feel comfortable expressing themselves through their clothing choices.
Protect Creatives from Bureaucracy
As a new idea is shared throughout a company in order to make it into a commercial product, it often gets changed to fit the current way of things. By clearing paths for those doing creative work, you can protect them from this hostile environment.
Know When to Impose Controls—and When Not To
The early part of the creative process can be confusing and inefficient. So don’t impose efficiency-minded controls during that phase. Instead of using these techniques during the early stages of game development, wait until the game is more reliable and being commercialized.
Most importantly, know which phase of product development you are currently in, and make sure that people with the right skills (for example, the ability to manage the commercialization phase) are involved at the appropriate times.
Create a Filtering Mechanism
For every good commercial idea, there are dozens of bad ones. How to winnow out the bad from the good? Having a variety of people with different backgrounds and opinions act as filters will help to ensure that all bases are covered. This suggests that you use business “accelerators” to test the potential of your product ideas.
While creativity has always been an important aspect of running a successful business, it has not been given top priority by managers. By definition, creativity is the ability to come up with something new and appropriate. This is essential for entrepreneurship, which is needed to get new businesses started and to sustain the best companies after they have reached global scale. Even though it may be difficult to manage creativity, it is still important for managers to focus on it because it can produce a lot of benefits.
The Importance of Leaders in the Innovation Process
The way an organization is run- including its hierarchy, chosen strategies, and employed technologies- as well as its culture has a great impact on how successful it is. Many studies have been conducted in order to better understand how to create an effective and advantageous organization. Organizations in the 21st century that are creative and innovative have a competitive advantage.
Creative and effective organizations do not emerge by accident. In order to transform companies into creative, effective, and productive ones, leaders must drive and control deliberate changes in structure, culture, and process. although numerous companies attempt to find a competitive edge through their organization, strategy, technology, and culture, leadership is really the most important factor in being competitive. The organization’s leaders usually decide what happens and give the direction, vision, and momentum that bring success. Leaders play an important role in fostering an environment that is conducive to innovation and success within an organization. This involves creating and managing the organizational culture and developing strategies that encourage and sustain innovation.
The Type of Leadership that Encourages Innovation
The way that leaders are structured in organizations can help create results that may make people more creative and innovative. However, every leadership model is not effective in creating this opportunity. Leadership styles and models that promote creativity can produce great results. Shared and collaborative leadership is more effective than heroic and authoritarian management in unlocking the potential of organizations.
When organizations operate from an authoritarian, hierarchical model where leaders control work, information, and decisions, employees are less empowered, creative, and productive. A model like this one would mean that leadership is an extension of what the top leader does and what they want. This type of leadership, where the leader is heroic and puts the needs of the people before their own, was popular in the 19th century. However, there are still many organizations today that operate under this model.
Organizations that adopt this leadership style tend to have employees who see their leaders as having all the best ideas and as being successful in achieving goals within the organization without any help. In these types of organizations, the leaders are in charge and the followers believe that these leaders are responsible for everything that happens, as well as making sure that the organizational processes go smoothly.
How Leaders Encourage Creativity and Innovation
Leadership is essential for fostering creativity and innovation within an organization. Leaders who want to encourage creativity and innovation in their organization can do so by creating an environment that is conducive to creativity. This can be done by creating a friendly and inclusive environment within the organization. An organization’s social structure being supportive and affirmative leaves room for employees to be creative. consequently, it is important for leaders to appreciate, value, and make use of the wealth of ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds that every employee brings to the organization, including their individual experiences and skills.
Additionally, those in charge must hold creativity in high regard and be supportive of fresh ideas. The organization provides the needed challenge and opportunities for people to be creative. The way a leader envisions an organization’s future and what goals they hope to achieve play a role in whether or not creativity is actively nurtured within that organization. An engaging vision creates an environment at work in which everyone is able to contribute and develop both professionally and personally while working together towards a shared goal. The leader here is trying to inspire the rest of the organization to be more creative in order to achieve the shared vision of building a great organization. A leader is someone who can inspire others by having a clear purpose and mission. This work environment encourages creativity, while this leadership style inspires followers to become creative leaders themselves.
Leaders can be more effective in encouraging creativity by understanding that organizations are living systems full of people with the innovative dynamics and potential to create change. The leaders engage the creative potential of the organization to tackle and solve issues. The main point the author is trying to make is that leaders should stop treating employees as if they are machines. Instead, they should acknowledge that employees are living beings who work in organizations that are also living systems. This believes that leaders should fill their organizations with followers who are adaptable, aware of changes in their environment, and able to innovate effectively. The only way leaders can harness innovation is by inviting everyone to participate in solutions and the creation of organizational processes. The leaders must engage the whole system in order to harness the intelligence and creativity that exists throughout the organization.
Leaders can help their organizations become more creative by stimulating it. They allow employees to find new ways to solve problems by giving them the freedom to do so. Leaders cause their followers to think freely by asking questions. The leader who invokes stimulation within the workplace creates an environment where the work is imaginative. A leadership style that is flexible and allows others to be creative will result in employees being more innovative in meeting organizational goals.
Frank Sonnenberg and Beverly Goldberg think that the hardest part of being creative is getting past the point where organizations stamp out creativity and innovation. This kind of culture creates an environment where people believe that the way the organization has always operated is the way it always should operate. People avoid taking risks at work for various reasons, such as being afraid of failing, being afraid of how it will affect their position in the company, or because they don’t like change. Leaders who are creative are willing to accept change and allow their followers to question the organization’s methods. They then seek out different ways of doing things. This type of leader does not believe in punishing those who try new things and fail, instead seeing it as a part of the learning process. Their actions help create an organizational culture where people feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes.
An organization’s ability to innovate is directly related to the diversity of its workforce. This means that leaders need to create an environment where different kinds of people can work together effectively to encourage creativity and innovation. The goal of diversity management for leaders is to use the varied perspectives and experiences of their followers to make the organization more effective. Leaders need to design the social structures within the organization so that all employees feel like they belong. They make all members of the organization feel valued, secure, and accepted, which allows them to give more of their talents and creativity to the organization. The organizational leader understands the individual differences in every person and makes the most of them. Many organizations have instituted policies and procedures that unintentionally prevent employees from contributing their full range of skills, ideas, and energies to the organization’s success.
Organizations will only have the full commitment from its workforce when it recognizes and removes any barriers to diversity. True diversity in an organization leads to more innovative solutions. Edwards argues that a workforce made up of people with different ways of thinking is more creative, flexible, and innovative. When people with different backgrounds and talents join an organization, they usually bring in new ideas and challenge the way the organization thinks. However, diversity does not happen overnight. Before an organization can reap the benefits of diversity, its leaders need to be on board with the idea and able to convince other members of the organization of its benefits. When an organization experiences a lack of diversity, they will put in place policies and strategies to correct the issue.
Organizational leadership is the most important aspect of organizational creativity and innovation. The leaders of an organization must initiate and maintain any transformation or renewal process. In order for organizations to innovate, they need leaders who are creative. The creativity of an organization depends on the leader’s design of the organization and creation of an environment that allows creativity to develop. How an organization encourages and manages diversity can also play a role. How the leader influences others to be creative and use that to help change the organization is the final factor.
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