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Employee Innovation: Inspiring Your People Will Drive Results

Aha Moment: Innovation gets employees to think differently

It’s true. Innovative employees are the key to ensuring your company is voracious about its market position. Innovation helps businesses keep up with the competition.

But you need to inspire your workforce in order to drive employee innovation.

It helps unlock their talent, which ultimately drives your organization to the cutting edge.

To get your employees to think differently, you need to get them outside of their daily grind. It’s a balance, finding time and energy to devote to daily tasks — like answering calls, taking meetings, making lists, or things that are non-inspired activities — and activities that lead to inspired thinking.

What is inspired activity?

It’s thinking about what’s new, what’s coming next, what you can do better.

When you can create inspired thinking in your employees, they’ll think differently and become more creative.

Creatively thinking about improving customer service, managing teamsor increasing productivity will take your business far.

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Unleashing innovation

Your employees need to unleash creativity. When they do, not only will your business benefit, but your employees will reap rewards, too.

When they can answer the questions “What did I learn?” and “What can I do with this lesson?” they’ll advance their own careers, inspire colleagues to move forward, and push your company to new bounds.

But in order to do that, they need the tools.

Here are some ways to inspire innovative thinking:

Repurpose how people see their environment

Get employees thinking differently about their workplace. Have them name their seat.

For example: Instead of an office, call it the “octagon of opportunity.”

Instead of a chair, name it the “caldron of confidence” or “fortress of fortune.”

Instead of carpet, it’s a “runway for revenue.”

Windows become the “cascade for illuminating thoughts.”

In effect, you’re resetting the purpose for the environment, giving employees permission to think differently and a tool they can use in other parts of their work.

Accept the challenge

Ask employees to “accept the challenge” every day to create something new or help something grow.

Before starting their workday, they can give themselves a personal challenge to innovate through inspired thinking.

A small daily challenge helps employees not be managed by a routine — those mundane tasks that are non-inspirational but rather it gives them something to conquer which improves morale, productivity, and promotes retention.

If inspired thinking and innovation decline, the company won’t grow. Eventually, it may even die. So inviting healthy challenge and competition into your company is a key component for growth.

Use crayons again
As kids, your employees probably picked up a crayon, created an “inspirational” art piece, and proudly showed it off to mom or dad.

As adults, we generally stop “creating” with crayons — or any other tools.

Eighty percent of your employees’ day is typically about non-inspired activities — emails, meetings, calls.

However, innovation starts with improving something, helping the company advance.

Here’s how to set up an inspired-thinking, collaborative exercise for employees:

Give everyone in the group a crayon and a piece of paper to draw something they’re proud of.

  • Have them swap papers with a colleague.
  • Now, instruct them to draw something that could be improved
  • They should again pass the paper to a new person.
  • Tell them to draw again — this time, something they don’t ever want to lose.

This activity spurs employees to collaborate and innovate, expanding their thinking. It also reminds them of these critical elements of high performance. Innovation happens when everyone in your company or on your team works with a focus to create something new, develop something they’re proud of, show evidence of how they improved something and collectively save your company from something it does not ever want to lose.

Inspiring your people to innovate

Without inspired thinking, employees will continue to look for and do only what they know or are asked to do and when this happens they don’t stretch their thinking.

But with inspired thinking, they’ll start to look for, create, find, and innovate for value. 

Your goal is to get your employees to think and to create inspired thinking so your company can continuously improve.

Take advantage of every opportunity to inspire employee innovation and creativity.

Help employees change the way they work, disrupt their routines, and create more time to think innovatively.

With these tools, they’ll unleash innovation like you’ve never before seen.