So how do we foster a culture of creativity and encourage innovation in our team and throughout our entire organization?
Below are 7 tips to help you create a culture of innovation and creativity:
1) Emphasize Mission Over Method
“Go therefore an make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19)
“You shall be My witnesses…even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8)
“Shepherd My sheep” (John 21:16)
As a leader, you need to constantly remind your people that methods and forms should never direct us. They are not why you are in business. You need to keep pointing your team back to the organization’s mission.
I tell our church often that our message and mission are fixed; they will not change. But our methods must always remain flexible if we want to enjoy a long life.
When you talk with your team, do you put more emphasis on your mission or your methods?
2) Assess Regularly With A Servant Spirit
Stay humble because humility will prompt you to constantly ask your congregation and your community, “What do you think?”
3) Create Time Just To Think
4) Brainstorm Together With A Creative Team
The leader who thinks he or she must solve all the problems alone will never maximize his or her potential. Set aside some blocks of time, get your idea people together, and watch the creative power of the group take you to places you would’ve never gone alone!
5) Allow Risk, Failure, And The Freedom To Experiment
We must create an environment that allows innovators to “color outside the lines.” Otherwise, your people will be afraid to venture too far from the norm or from the security of last year’s ruts.
Part of creating this environment is allowing failure. Failure is essential to coming up with breakthrough ideas. If you have had no failures that may be a sign that you have little or no innovation taking place.
If you or your team has an idea, but it seems scary or risky, then label the venture an “experiment.” This will help put everyone’s fears at ease. More than once in the past I’ve told fellow staff members or the congregation, “Look, we’re going to try this for three months, and if it doesn’t work, we don’t have to stay with it.” By granting the freedom to experiment, you reduce fear and encourage innovation.
6) Celebrate And REward Your Innovators
But if you honor and celebrate your pioneers as well, you will foster a pioneering culture. Be public with your praise for those who “color outside the lines.”
This is especially important when a team risks and struggles or fails. Even then, you can celebrate their courage and willingness to risk. You always have team members who are sitting on good ideas but are afraid to bring them.
By celebrating innovative ideas, even when they don’t work, you make it safe for people to share their other ideas and you tap into their full creativity.
7) Watch, Listen, And Learn From Others
This is yet another affirmation of how humility in leadership actually empowers more effective innovation. The prideful leader thinks he or she already has it figured out. Pride says, “We’re the best, so why look and learn from others?” That’s a sure way to kill creativity.
I once read an article about a company that stimulated innovation by bringing problems to a department that had no experience or direct interest in that particular issue. For example, if they wanted to stimulate sales of a product, they would go to the engineering department and ask them to brainstorm sales ideas.
We all tend to get locked into our own box and our own way of approaching problems. Go outside your “normal” circle of contacts in search of innovative approaches. Sometimes the best solutions are very simple ideas you’ve been overlooking all along.