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you’re working on making changes, as your attention is given more and more to thinking and devising plans. When you’re in this situation, you can be too close to the project to see it from an impartial perspective, and so it is always useful to get feedback from others. While you make


innovation happen in this communal fash- ion, it is important to establish creativity in the culture of the com- pany. As mentioned, particularly stiff and formal business environ- ments can make new ideas feel quite unwelcome, and in an industry that values pro- fessional reputation, many would rather keep things to themselves than risk social rejection. Tis is why it is important to let everyone know that creative thoughts and innovation are welcome in your organisation, and that you are always pleased to hear new ideas. Without a creative culture, innovation will never truly happen.


Build trusting relationships


Te key to becoming innovative in a business setting is in establishing a mutual trust and respect across the whole team, and this means thinking about how you associate with your colleagues. If you tend to be shut in your office all day and only see others when you call them to your desk, now is the time to make yourself seen around the office, and to take the time to make the rounds and see how everyone is doing. Be sure to give a few minutes of your time to each individual at least on a weekly basis, so they know that you care and that they have opportunities to talk to you about anything that may arise. Talk with your colleagues in an open, positive and proactive way, and you will soon get the same in return, and have established the trust you need. You cannot build a culture of trust just because you feel you have to, though. No new culture will work or take off if the manager doesn’t believe in its value, and you can’t lead a group of professionals with an “as I say, not as I


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innovation to light. If it’s the same old office, with bare walls and nothing around to motivate everybody, what sort of positive change is going to occur inside? It is essential that you have corporate memory. Fill the workplace with motivational influ- ences – prototypes, models, pictures, posters, things that get you thinking about what you’re trying to achieve, and spark interest. Transform your


place of work to be a


productive place that energises its workers to be creative and innovative. Give your team food for


do” attitude. It is all very well pointing out that a good manager listens to the ideas of their team and acts upon them, but if you aren’t interested in the value your colleagues can bring to the company, and only really care about being at the helm of something important or successful, then you are not going to bring about innovation. Once you have gathered some ideas


from your team and know what sort of changes you want to start seeing in your company, it is up to you to start the ball rolling. Live and breathe those changes, and embody them completely. Be the living example of everything you want your company to achieve and try not to lose focus – if you do, what’s stopping your team from doing so too? Don’t expect every single person to be as aligned with these changes as you are yet. As I’ve mentioned previously, everyone will have their own ideas, and it is up to you to hear those ideas, but if you lead by example and demonstrate the reasons why these changes are beneficial to everyone, then your colleagues will soon follow suit and become part of the changes.


Set up creative spaces within the workplace


Te office itself is an important place to focus on when first bringing


thought. Although team members may not consciously see this as an attempt to open their minds, making their surroundings more interesting is sure to spark fresh ideas. To further this, it can even be a good idea to change the office up every so often; change the seating plan, the wall furnishings and desk arrangements to give everyone a fresh perspective. Troughout life and socialisation,


we are brought up to learn that we are rewarded for being able to pick apart widely accepted ideas, and spot problems that usually go unnoticed. Tis is certainly the case in business, and can make a huge difference. However, when you are trying to encourage innovation, do what you must to prevent yourself from damp- ening others’ ideas. Where you would normally listen to an idea, respond “yes, but…” and quickly turn the conversation back around to your idea, the one that you are more confident in, listen and try “yes, and …” to combine ideas instead of making it a dual between opposing plans. It is all about collaboration, not


competition, so keep things amiable, and always aim to build upon what you have, don’t knock it down.


Stephen Fortune is principal consultant at The Oxford Group. Follow him on Twitter @StephenFortune_ and visit www.oxford-group.com


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