Innovation has been in the forefront of every human achievement over the centuries. It is all about bringing out the very best from the major resources of an organisation (people, processes, and relationships) to deliver on organisational objectives and improve the quality of work for employees. Workplace innovation creates room for new ideas to be generated from the very core of the organisation through high levels of collaboration that generate alternatives to ‘business as usual’. Throughout the human race, innovation has been largely linked with invention, automation, research and development.

Although these are important, workplace innovation is much bigger, focusing on organisational, technical and social innovation to grow value creation and deliver rewarding work. The outcomes of achieving innovation at work can be new ideas about products/services, processes, policies and behaviours. The process of innovating starts from how organisations and tasks are designed, how people are managed, how decisions are made, how technical processes interact with non-technical processes and how organisations interact with their external environments and with key stakeholders such as customers, clients, suppliers, competitors, communities and society.

Workplace innovation as an outcome and a process totally involves an ongoing and self-reinforcing loop (or virtuous circle). Workplace innovation is all about establishing excellent working conditions and environment for organisations to engage fully with their employees and in turn, create spaces for employees to engage with the organisation. With business competition rising everyday, innovation is becoming very necessary in business and social well-being.  Productive organisations deliver on business growth, economic wealth and national economic outcomes, creating the opportunity and resource to support social policy priorities.

You need to understand that work and workplaces are very important in creating sustainable innovation and growth. Also have it in mind that innovative organizations invest so much in developing imaginative thinking in their workers so that they can grow new ideas. Business experts in different ways have explained innovation as something that triggers progress and lacking it can affect the growth of an organization.

10 Ways to Innovate at Work

Being able to create or bring forth innovative ideas is something a lot of people want to achieve everyday. But sometimes we feel we can’t be more creative at work because of factors beyond our control. These factors may include your company being risk-averse and likes to play it safe, or your targets seem to big, or maybe the sheer size of your to-do list makes adding anything new feel impossible. Agreeably, a lot of these may be true, but below are few tips that will help you innovate at work and enjoy doing so:

  1. Grow your Creativity

With the advent of technology and the Internet, the first thing most of us do every morning is to check our phones and social media platforms. Instead of doing this in the morning, look for things that enhances your creativity. Pick your favourite song, podcast, or blog to kick-start the morning. As long as it fuels your creativity it should be the very first thing you do in the morning. You’ll be surprised how much it will inspire your attitude and creativity throughout the day.

  1. Restrain Things

Although it may sound very bad but creating restraints or banning somethings will actually inspire innovation by forcing you to think dynamically and creatively. As an exercise, start banning things and exploring the implications. You can start by banning words, restraining resources, ban your primary target market, ban your default communication tools, and watch your creativity take off. Have it in mind that the ideas you settle on will likely be watered down versions of your initial suggestions, but the point of this exercise is to spark new thoughts on how to do the same old things.

  1. Have a little Ego

Indeed a lot of entrepreneurs have lost their way as a result of excessive ego. But you need to understand that a little bit of ego can be helpful in creating innovation. Research had shown that ego makes people do things that they wouldn’t normally do. For example, if a group of individuals are trying to solve a problem or create a solution, ego can motivate you to concentrate more, to work hard, to do better than the people around you.

  1. Create Stand-Up Meetings

When we are standing, our entire body energy heightens to another level and helps us think and do things with ease. This is why it is advisable that you convert one of your meetings to a standing one and watch the momentum, enthusiasm, and action soar. It will make things move faster and create a more action orientated approach to work.

  1. Make your environment conducive for innovation

You need to understand that the environment you find yourself in plays a key role in harnessing the innovative characteristics you possess, and determines how often you use them. Have it in mind that to a great extent innovation depends a lot on your background and where you grow up and what you’re exposed to. For instance, if your parents are very intelligent, you will probably have more traits, and utilize those traits. Of course you can’t change the circumstances of your upbringing, but as an adult, we have more of a choice in the kinds of people that we surround ourselves with.

  1. Alter Your Assumptions

In our lives or in our workplace, we all have these little things we do with our eyes shut or do so easily without much thought. It’s part of what makes us excel at our jobs, but also part of what blinds us to opportunities. You need to identify all the tasks you do without thinking, then take your time to think about how you could do them differently. Note that it might not work, but it might also lead you to find a new way of doing the same old thing.

  1. Leave the Office

To be more innovative you need to grow the habit of stepping outside even if it’s just to walk around the block. Note that as you stroll, you have to pay attention to things around you. If you need some discipline on your inspiration hunt, make a game of it and deliberately hunt for things that begin with the letter A on the first day, B the second, and so on. If you follow this trend, your mind will start connecting dots between what you see and the problems you left back at the office.

  1. Grow your innovative traits

Just like we mentioned above about creativity, there’s a belief that innovative people are just born that way, but that is entirely false. Almost everybody was born with innovative traits. Few people people use them, most people don’t. You need to take your time to be aware of what traits you have, wake up the dormant traits, and prove the utilization of those traits. Note that working on cultivating the traits that already exist in you can lead to a greater ability to be innovative.

  1. Choose Small Projects

In this age, we make the mistake of always thinking that ideas should always be big, transformative, and game-changing. But sometimes, it’s those little things we neglect that make huge differences. You need to understand that the advantage of picking small innovative ideas are very huge. Not only do they happen quickly and (most often) without a lot of fuss, they also garner the interest and attention of both your team and organization; thus paving the way for bigger, meatier innovation projects to follow. It’s very advisable that you start by changing a lot of small things, like how you sign off your emails, how you reward yourself for good work, or how you kick off meetings.

  1. Bring it to Life

To become more innovative at work, you need to quit talking and start building. You need to start converting your thoughts into words, your words into pictures, and your pictures into prototypes. When people can see your idea, they’re less likely to forget it and much more likely to take it seriously and become involved in its development and bullet-proofing. Even a bad drawing is better than no drawing.

Conclusion

Indeed there’s no shortage of books and resources with different methodologies that can help you adopt a more formal innovative approach to work. But you need to understand that although all may seem trivial, put together they force you to see the world in a new way. And that’s what innovation is all about—seeing opportunity where no one else can. Experts believe that the more you practice how to be innovative, the more easily it will become your default way of thinking and the more innovation will become part of your daily work. Do not forget that committing to innovation is a brave thing to do. When done right and meticulously, your ideas and actions will likely inspire other people around you. There will be days when it feels like too much to take on, but stay strong and focus on your goals.

Ajaero Tony Martins