Lately, I have read a lot about how innovation is considered critical to success in business and a top reason why an executive was chosen for a position [i.e. William Perez, formerly of Nike and SC Johnson was chosen to replace Bill Wrigley Jr. as CEO of the William Wrigley Jr. Company].
I started thinking: are senior executives trained in how to think creatively? Can you be trained to think creatively or be innovative, or are you just born with ‘it’?
Apex Performance recently surveyed over 100 senior executives and found that creativity was cited by 92 percent as a key part of their job. But, only 76 percent of these people reported that they receive little, if any, training to help them to be creative. Similarly, while 89 percent are expected to be innovative, 70 percent get no related training.
No question creativity and innovation are critical for business success. Today, so many people are responsible for it, not just technical positions or functions like research and development. While it is not clear to me that formal training is really the answer to helping people become more innovative or creative, I think organizations lose out by not helping their people to develop these skills.
One simple idea to help get the creative juices flowing? Brainstorming…with preparation. Brainstorming can be a really effective technique to generate new ideas, some of which may be breakthrough ideas – if people are first prepared. While brainstorming is a common practice used to generate ideas in the workplace, only a minority of companies provide any specific preparation for the people involved in brainstorming sessions. If people are not prepared in advance of a brainstorming session, then you run the risk of getting the same ideas reordered or rephrased.
Get people “out of the box” by preparing their creative imaginations in advance of a brainstorming session by establishing some guidelines to increase your likelihood for success:
Creative, innovative results can be achieved if people are prepared in advance. Have fun getting as many ideas as possible so that the gleaning process can be fruitful in the end. Here’s to using the simple idea of brainstorming to power your creativity and innovation engines.
Adapted from Apex Performance, Inc.