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nnovation is a hot word in business. Every company prides themselves on it,

and the word is plastered all over websites, leaflets, business cards and adverts. All customers want something innovative, and all companies want to be able to provide that something. However, most people will

readily admit that they are not sure how to be innovative. Tis presents an obvious discrepancy between what businesses want to be, and what they actually are. In organisations full of well-educated, experienced and professional people, it is not a theoretical problem, but a practical one – and this is where people come unstuck.

Do you know what innovation is?

Te terms ‘innovative’ and ‘creative’ are often used interchangeably, but when it comes to making them happen, they are very different things. Innovation is a process, the journey of gathering ideas and inspiration and combining them with the knowledge and experience of people to make entirely new creations. Meanwhile, creativity is a behav-

iour, one that facilitates innovation and definitely comes in handy when trying to break off in a new direction. It is not essential though; what is essential is a good understanding of innovation and what it involves. We are busy people. We spend

many of our waking hours either at work, going to work or coming home from work. And with the developments in technology meaning we are always reachable no matter where we are, there is no solace and we continue to work when we’re on the move. Tis busy lifestyle suffocates the opportunities for us to recover ourselves and have creative thoughts.

Turn off your autopilot

So many busy managers get used to running on autopilot in order to get everything done, going from one meeting to another,

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accepting memos and taking calls in between and feeling something is slightly off if the phone isn’t ringing. Autopilot is great for subconsciously processing the information of the day, but it is not at all conducive to creative thoughts and behaviour, or to breaking the cycle in any way. Turning off your autopilot opens your mind to opportunities, ways of thinking and ideas that otherwise would not be present, while stopping navel-gazing

staff fearing ridicule or disapproval for suggesting something that goes against the grain of the company. Tis can be slowly conquered, by aiming to do at least one thing per day that’s ‘outside the box’, you can grow more comfortable with ideas and more confident in your own creativity and its place in business.

Encourage creative flow

Fill the workplace with motivational influences – things that get you thinking about what you’re trying to achieve

from taking over. Tis is potentially the most important step to leading an innovative workforce, because without an open mind you are unaware of the opportunities going on around you and thus other members of staff will also adopt a closed state of mind. A lot of overly-formal professional

environments can really dampen any attempt at creativity, due to

Flow is something that is often missing in modern business. You recall that feeling you would get as a child when working on some project or other, resisting the call to come down for dinner because you were so caught up in what you were doing? Tat is creative flow, and it is all too often in- hibited by the high demand of modern life, and the absolute lack of space, silence and opportunity that the average working day involves. Tis is what needs to be brought back to business. So how do you go about making

creativity a central part of your com- pany culture, so that innovation can begin? Creativity requires space from all the hubbub you usually associate with work, and must be committed to if it is going to become a central figure in the way you operate at work. So, clear a page in your diary and don’t let anything disturb that allotted time, then do something totally different. Get a few colleagues together and go for a walk to discuss ideas, or go for a pub lunch and brainstorm together. Invite clients into the office to share your latest plans with them, or host a meeting to ask for people’s opinions. Of course you are never going to get every single person 100% on your side – you are all still individuals and it is natural that everyone will want to make their own unique contributions to a

project – but throwing ideas around and

bouncing them off others

is a really great way to get the innovation ball rolling. It can also be very easy to

become increasingly introverted when @TrainingJournal

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