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  • Dr. Julie Olsen

Becoming More Innovative at Work


Have you ever wished you were more innovative? Do you feel as if others are more creative than you? Creative thinking or innovation may come easily to some people however for the rest of us, it can be a challenge. Luckily, there is still hope for all of us!


First, let’s define innovation. Michael Boyles in his article posted in Harvard Business School defines innovation as “a product, service, business model, or strategy that's both novel and useful.” He goes on to state that “Innovations don't have to be major breakthroughs in technology or new business models; they can be as simple as upgrades to a company's customer service or features added to an existing product.”


What? Is he saying that innovation does not have to be new and mind blowing? Yes, that is exactly right. Often people do not realize that innovation can be a simple change in a process and even fewer recognize the cumulative effect of multiple small innovations.


What can you do to enhance your ability to become more innovative? Here are a few tips that you can implement easily into your daily activities that may help you think more creatively.


Easy Tips to Become More Innovative at Work


Take a Different Route to Work. Changing your route makes you pay more attention to your journey and engages your mind. It is a great way to start your day.


Refresh Your Current Surroundings. Take ownership of your workspace, and spruce it up for creative thinking. Start by decluttering your desk. If you have your own office, rearrange the furniture if possible. Find a spot for capturing your ideas when they come to you.


Step Outside. Break the monotony that often comes with working within four walls by going outside. You might be able to work out on a picnic table, or you may be able to take a walk. The point is to refresh your brain with a location change.


Read Something Different. Find a book or magazine that deals with a topic that you know nothing about.


Learn a new hobby. Learning new skills exercises your brain and encourages growth.


Ask Questions. How did this process begin? What if we…? When was the last time we looked at this process or revised it? What caused us to get that response?


Look for workarounds. We all have been guilty of creating workarounds for systems or processes that do not work effectively. Recognize when this happens and work on improving the process instead of working around it.


Idea Networking. Who can help you look at things from a unique perspective? Consider people who see the world differently from you and ask their thoughts on a process.


Socialize Outside of Your Normal Network. Go to lunch with someone in a different department or organization. Ask about what they do, their challenges, and their successes. Consider how what you learn may help you in your job.


Observe customers. How do they interact with you and your organization? Are they having the best experience you have to offer? What is difficult for them? How can you make it easier?


Many of these suggestions are simply about changing your routine. It is easy to get comfortable and become complacent but that rarely leads to innovation. By seeking out ways to think and act differently, not only will you grow professionally, but your personal life will also benefit, too.


"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

Will Rogers


If you are looking to spark more innovation in your organization, let's talk!