5 Techniques For Creating A Culture Of Innovation & Problem Solving

male-lotus-smallI’m a believer that anyone can innovate, though not everyone will.

To create a culture of innovation a business must foster non-traditional thinking from the onset which, for established companies, can feel threatening.

As businesses grow, the inclination is to protect revenue streams and not rock the boat. Unfortunately, that disposition is setting them up for disruption. And the larger a company is the more difficult transformation from within becomes unless an innovative culture has been in place since the beginning.

It’s in the interest of smaller businesses to challenge incumbents and in doing so, knock down barriers while creating wealth and opportunity.

Whether you’re a large or small business, creating a culture of innovation also requires hiring the right people, putting them in the right place and giving them space to do what they do best.

Tony Schwartz at Harvard Business Review suggested 6 aspects of a business that are beneficial to creating an innovative culture.

  1. Meet People’s Needs
  2. Teach Creativity Systematically
  3. Nurture Passion
  4. Make The Work Matter
  5. Provide The Time
  6. Value Renewal

While I would urge you to read Tony’s post, its number six, Value Renewal that I want to add a little emphasis to.

Creatively Solving The Problem At Hand

If you’ve ever solved a vexing problem while commuting home, taking a shower or waking up in the middle of the night you’ll recognize a common theme, our brains often do their best work when we give them room to breathe.

The pressures to get things done often keep us from taking the time we need a more thoughtful and innovative approach. So the next time you’re working on a tough problem, feeling stuck or suffering writers block consider these five ways to break through.

5 Ways To Create Renewal For Creative Breakthrough

Just Walk Away: Do something unrelated, anything unrelated. Just get up and walk away for 15 – 20 minutes. If the breakthrough comes sooner than by all means, run back to your desk, but give yourself the 15 – 20 minutes it takes for whatever you were hung up on to get flushed out.

Change Environment: Sometimes walking away isn’t possible. I get it, but don’t let that be an excuse. When you can’t get away, try changing your environment. Go to the coffee shop, or if you can’t leave the office, head to the cafeteria or find a conference room you don’t normally use. If you’re working from home move from the office to the kitchen table. We don’t realize how much environmental factors play into our mental state but when external stimuli changes so will your thinking.

Sometimes we send the o2o team into the mountains for a week and it works wonders. So far they’ve all come back!

Sleep: We don’t get enough of it, but studies have shown that a lack of sleep impairs our ability to think clearly. Quit making excuses and get more sleep. A lack of sleep is NOT a badge of honor. We all have periods of sleep deprivation but it shouldn’t go on forever.

Keep Working, On Something Else: If you have an endless array of things to get done and feel too overwhelmed to walk away trying working on something unrelated to the current problem. For example, if you’re stuck writing a blog post, don’t dive into another one, jump to something different, preferably something less creative and more analytical, so you engage a different part of your brain without ignoring the myriad of things you’re responsible for doing.

Read: Reading while not the most intuitive thing to do, is one of the quickest ways to get your head into a different place and give the problem at hand the breathing room it needs. Sometimes reading related things is helpful other times reading something unrelated or even a work of fiction is preferable. You’ll have to experiment with this one to see what works for you.

The next time you get stuck on a problem try one of the above. It may not always bring immediate results but grinding out at your keyboard almost never will.

What techniques do you use to solve tough problems and keep your thinking fresh?

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