Smart organisations are marked by their creativity. They make the most of the resources, handle complex issues, and solve tough challenges. It requires patience, dedication, and courage. Sometimes, companies get stuck and need help to think anew.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them,” Einstein said once. His observation is just as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Changes happen at a faster pace, and many companies struggle to keep up with the progress.
What will happen to those companies? Some will disappear. Others will stubbornly hold on. The result depends on their ability to live up to the high demands set by consumers. Simply put, companies need to get smarter.
Companies must dare to innovate and think differently on a regular basis. It is scary and exciting at the same time. To solve tomorrow’s problems, new knowledge and ideas are needed.
Hence a smart organisation is idea-driven. Its people are looking for new insights that can improve the core business. But sometimes, things go wrong. The business stops harnessing its creative potential, which leads to lower employee engagement and a lack of progress.
How can traditional companies break old patterns and dare to think anew?
Breaking the idea drought
Idea drought is common among companies. Fears for ”being wrong” and ”sounding silly” prevent the flow of ideas from spreading. It is easier to walk in old footsteps than to try something new. This is, however, not sustainable in the long term.
To break the idea drought, companies need to foster a more open communications climate. A first step in this direction is to decrease the distance between managers and co-workers. To allow more informal situations, so that insights and experiences can be shared.
The most creative ideas are often found ”on the floor” and take place between employees. How do you follow up on such knowledge? Disregard these ideas at your own risk, but don’t underestimate their potential.
(For instance, did you know that Coca-Cola’s logo was invented by an accountant? Or that the idea behind the Post-It note was discovered by an employee in a church?)
A second step is to let go of the ego, become more playful and dare to brainstorm new ideas.
Dare to brainstorm new ideas
Idea generation trains the brain to see new connections. Let it wander freely. But remember to keep out the ”critical editor”. She can come later. Coming up with ideas and evaluating them are two separate processes. Never evaluate your ideas at the beginning.
When was the last time your company did a brainstorm? The brain is a muscle that needs to work out. Entrepreneur James Althucher claims that idea generation is a must, and has written an important blog post on how to train your creativity.
Bring out a pen and paper, set the timer on five minutes and start brainstorming ideas for some of the following topics (of course, you can come up with your own suggestions):
- 10 ideas on how your company could become a content brand
- 10 ideas on how your company could work with events
- 10 ideas on how your company could work with history marketing
- 10 ideas that your company could try in 2017 (maybe virtual reality)
- 10 ideas that you got from reading this blog post
First do a brainstorm on your own, perhaps you can even use Post-it notes. Ask your colleagues to do the same thing and then exchange your ideas with each other. What ideas came to mind after your brainstorming session?
(Feel free to share your ideas on Twitter. Use the hashtag #SpoonAcademy.)
A smart organisation has many ideas to choose from. But only a few of them gets implemented, namely those which are deemed most important for the future. Have the courage to brainstorm lots of ideas. Brainstorm them, evaluate them, and make something happen.
The world is becoming more complex. This year’s Nobel laureates are proof of this as the award increasingly goes to two or more people. So, forget about the lonesome genius. Instead welcome collaboration. I think Einstein would have liked that.
What problems is your company trying to solve? Do you involve all employees in the process? The solutions of tomorrow can be found in the most unlikely places. Stay curious and keep looking.