If you believe innovation is important and should be at the heart of how you support your customers, you’re in good company. Most organizations want their employees to find new, creative ways to meet customer demands and solve problems. But organizations often fall back on the familiar processes and methods they have already created, doing their work the same old way. If you find that your employees are stuck in an outdated pattern of working, it is worth considering that perhaps organization leaders are unintentionally killing innovation.
As management consultants, we’ve been in client engagements where the team environment was stagnant, and leadership was focused on existing tasks and short-term results. Even though clients often ask for creative ideas and innovative solutions to their problems, teams are not always optimized for success. Leaders often unintentionally create roadblocks and stifle innovation – hurting team culture and creating frustrated employees and clients.
We find that there are three ways a leader may be killing innovation without even knowing it:
So how can you position your team to be ready to embrace a culture of innovation? Part of the solution lies in creating “safe spaces.” Although the term may sound like management jargon, safe spaces are crucial to allowing teams to shed preconceived ideas and fears about failure and be open to taking risks. Some of the key aspects of creating safe spaces include:
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At our firm, there is a culture concept called “casting a positive shadow.” This is the job of all employees — at any level — to reinforce the importance of leading by example. This is a great foundation to start creating safe spaces for innovation and creativity in teams. By pivoting from focusing on outputs to creating value for clients, leaders can be freed from the burden of business as usual and unlock the full potential for teams to work together to create new and innovative solutions. Each one of us has this potential; the key to innovation lies within you.
Khedidja Ouheb is a Senior Associate and John O’Connor is an Experienced Manager at Grant Thornton Public Sector.