I once had a client who said that his CIO - a Chief Innovation Officer - should be locked away in a cupboard and only allowed out on a temporary basis. The message being that most of the time his ideas were wacky, unsuitable and a waste of time and it was only every now and then that he should be listened to. What a waste of talent, I thought. Surely all ideas should be listened to, after all a good idea might be hidden in there, somewhere.
People always talk about that light-bulb moment, that they were in the shower when the idea came. And this often implies that little thought has gone into the idea, that it just emerged from nowhere. But all too often the idea follows a quiet moment of reflection, a collaborative session or some intensive reading or intelligence gathering. I find that swimming or going for a walk frees me from the daily distraction and allows me to sift through my thinking to focus on potential ideas.
One of our clients Steelcase, which focuses on workplace solutions, believes that innovation is so important to its business that its headquarters should be all about creativity. That 'space' should be created specifically to facilitate the different way people approach the creative process.
But employee engagement, as this article also refers to, is equally vital - everyone has the potential to be creative and contribute that light-bulb idea that could make a dramatic difference to the business.
The history of successful brands is in the ability to adapt to change slightly ahead of customers – not too fast but enough to spot trends as they come and to innovate at the same speed as customers are exposed to them, according to Bidwell at Springwise. This can only happen if entire companies are on board. Springwise sends innovation ideas to all employees across the organisations that are signed up to the service. It takes employees out of their “normal universe” and “opens their minds to change” when they see real examples of innovation.