Eleven Weird Ways to Create Innovation Culture

weird11lightbulbEleven Weird Ways to Create Innovation Culture

Lately I’ve been seeing the glass half empty when it comes to innovation topics. I want everyone to know that, wow, can I ever be positive. In fact, highly creative and insightful, when it comes to inspiring innovation. Are you an empowered leader who wants to make something innovative happen? Try these Eleven Weird Ways — they work to improve the innovation culture.

  1. Surprise and delight the team. There’s nothing like a good surprise to inject new energy into a group. It can be really simple stuff. I once gave everyone on the staff a pair of Ray Bans. Smiles everywhere the rest of the day, and they wore those shades for years.
  2. Have a boring meeting in an exciting place. Get offsite, combine it with a happy hour. Careful, you might have some fun.
  3. Forgive all meetings for a week. Better yet, Forbid all meetings for a week. You might be surprised at how much actual work gets done. You could also limit meetings to 10 minutes as an alternative.
  4. Give a random award. Recognize something good that isn’t earth shattering. Get an actual plaque, get it engraved, etc. It’s a bit of fun, which never hurts.
  5. Give introverts a chance to speak. Take a pause in the usual wild west of a meeting where everyone talks over everyone else. Facilitate more reflection. Give people a chance to speak without fear of being cut off — give them the floor until they give up the floor. Allow pauses. If you do this often enough those quiet people will start talking.
  6. Say Yes to a truly risky, but promising, project. If all you ever hear is No it can be defeating. Say yes to some kind of lean-ish trial of a concept that is out there on the edge. Not so much risk if you manage it, and who knows, maybe this is what you should be doing all the time.
  7. Give somebody a chance. Promote somebody who isn’t traditional. There are promising and talented people who don’t have advanced degrees or the typical background for managers at your organization. You’re missing a trick — give somebody a chance — and then support their success. The message this sends the entire group is “talent is appreciated here.” Find that diamond in the rough.
  8. Remove bureaucracy. It’s good to have an innovation process. But let’s face it sometimes these elaborate processes get in the way of faster iteration. Look for ways to streamline, look for ways that allow people to move things along on their own without too many roadblocks. Consider a temporary hiatus — but give people a crazy deadline.
  9. Celebrate failure, really. You’ve heard this tip from others. It’s so freakin rare anyone actually does it. Failure can be heartbreaking and when you don’t put a cap on it, it’s even more heart breaking because it festers under the surface. Throw an actual party, with Champagne.
  10. Doughnuts. That’s right, show up with doughnuts. Get some really good ones, and a nice variety of types. Especially helpful when coping with a tense issue.
  11. Have fun with a serious conflict. Conflicts get personal way to fast. If you can bring it to the surface, smile about it, do something to remove the fear, calm the nerves, and discuss it without big implications or personal attacks, wow, you might just get over a huge hump. You probably need a neutral facilitator to help, get the help. Remember, unless conflict is resolved you’ll never be high function.

Bonus Idea: Buy everyone a copy of Jack’s Notebook!

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