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Bringing in new thinking.

Summary: Innovation is the name of the game in today's business world yet how do you shift from the process and procedures that first made you stable and successful to a dynamic and versatile culture without crashing and burning?

Innovation is the name of the game in today's business world yet how do you shift from the process and procedures that first made you stable and successful to a dynamic and versatile culture without crashing and burning?

First Philippine Holdings Corporation emulated Samsung's moves when they decided to bring in new thinking. They hired Filipinos that worked with multinationals in order to infuse global thinking into their company. These leaders acted as catalysts to the company and raised the bar for best practices. They also hired expatriates to work on the line that were culturally sensitive and great mentors. This helped established workers move out of old ways of performing and thinking.

The software company Intuit emulated Google in allowing their employees 10 per cent of their work time to explore and work on ideas and insights for improvements and new products. Intuit also created a platform for brainstorming in which employees can share their ideas and connect them with others.

So how can you become an innovative company? First of all, your leaders must be visionary role models who can inspire employees to embrace change and who reward creative thinking and behavior. Research has found that 20 to 67 per cent of creativity climate depends upon leaders. Innovative leaders set the direction, align employees personal values with authentic company values and build commitment to change. Are your top executives autocrats or visionary leaders? Are they participatory or does your company operate in a top-down decision-making manner? Do employees understand your company's vision and how they contribute to it? Is information freely shared or is it hoarded?

Change doesn't just come from the top: an innovative company is one that has the right culture for the front-line worker to top-level executives.

What are the attributes of a creative culture? The first is organisational encouragement. This involves shared vision, incentives for the flow of ideas and fair judgment of ideas. The flip side of this is lack of organisational obstacles. These include political strife, destructive internal competition, resistance to change, and fear of risk and failure.

Resources are necessary for innovation to thrive. If ideas get filed away and employees don't see their ideas put into action, they'll soon lose motivation. Every worker needs access to the information, the materials, and the procedures that make innovation real. They need to see how what they do connects to the company's higher purpose.

Workers also need realistic workloads: stress kills creativity. Innovation comes from an almost playful kind of thinking: a what-if kind of mentality that can only exist when workers aren't frantic about meeting basic expectations.

A degree of autonomy is also necessary. Employees that conduct work are the people best equipped to see how they can better it. Providing challenging work is another way to spark creativity and innovation and offering workers opportunities to learn new skills and advance is a huge boon to employee engagement. Do your workers understand the other jobs along the line? Do they understand how the whole process comes together? Job-sharing can create a boon of new perspectives and ideas.

How does your company treat social interaction at the workplace? Is it frowned upon or encouraged? Most learning in the workplace happens informally. It is these casual conversations that best help people learn how to do their jobs well. This kind of social interaction provides a nexus for the sharing of ideas and the connections and building that can bring exciting new products and procedures to your business.

The author is an executive coach and HR training and development expert. She can be reached at or

Copyright 2011 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 29, 2011
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