11 digital principles for building a creative digital workforce

It’s important to set core principles for building and nurturing an environment in the organization where curiosity is encouraged, and creative thinking is rewarded.

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7. Shareholders and C-suite executives need to agree that the next round of financial statements is not just for the short-term business goals

Innovation comes with a risk of failure, usually not well tolerated in a market governed by risk-allergic mindset. Some innovations take a bit longer term investment. From a finance perspective, as for innovation, it can be better not to define the budget too narrowly as with regular projects. Since part of the innovation puzzle is that the management might not know how and for what you will use the budget; and some innovation needs to be fed with resources while others get better by 'starving' them. Some innovations take a bit longer term investment. In many companies, a pervasive obsession for purely quantitative measurement or numerical success indicators sweeps aside much of the softer and more qualitative information that is crucial in understanding the health and well-being of the firm's innovation efforts holistically. Some mindsets are only concerned with quarterly ROIs and protecting passive shareholder equity to satisfy the preoccupations of investment capital. Forward-looking leaders are the ones who don’t lose the sight of the long-term perspective or the 'big picture” view, although they spend the necessary time, efforts and resources on “keeping the light on,” and achieving the short-term business results. Transparency can help innovation leaders tell a story of the journey from current state to the future state of improvements, of accomplishments, of enablement with business strategies, etc. It's definitely a great core competency to leverage.

8. Performance management and remuneration policy and process need to reflect the desire for the organization to be innovative

Like many other types of management, performance management is important to make innovation value more tangible, analyze innovation benefit per cost and measure innovation effort both qualitatively and quantitatively. Innovation needs a certain level of guidelines and rules. Keep measures simple and understandable. Any innovative idea to be successful during its development of achieving business value should satisfy the following criteria: Consumability, marketability, feasibility and profitability. From workforce and workplace innovation management perspective, there are two types of measurement: The first type of creativity measurement in the workplace is through the results or the outcomes of creative thoughts and actions. What value have those new things designed and implemented? The second type of assessment is through innovation drivers; the elements that enhance the organizational innovation capacity. For measuring such, there must be an appreciation for the organization of the sources of creativity as well as the structures and cultures that will promote innovation. Choose the right metrics by deciding which are seen as critical to making the progress in order to deliver more business value.

9. The risk is part of innovation, but you can manage parts of these risks

Employees need to be given the 'permission' to be innovative. Failure should not be an offense and actually if there are not a few failures, that means you are not trying hard enough. Failure should be regarded as a learning experience rather than offense. Build the culture of continuous learning and encourage break-through thinking. The purpose of assessing risk against consequence criteria is to determine what risks must be managed, and who needs to be involved in innovation management. The job of management is to help when a failure happens to turn it around as a team. Defining risks the way enables corporate management to define what degree of consequence (assuming the risk is highly likely to occur) the corporate management needs to be informed about (escalation) and what degree of consequence from a single event they believe is the threshold that requires their management to divert some of their time from other business activities, to the management of the specific risk they don’t want to be informed about (prioritization). Innovation Risk Management means stepping away from the accepted "best practice" and asking whether a fundamentally different approach would provide more flexibility, sensitivity and responsiveness.

10. The creative workplace is based on a triangle with three vertices - culture, method and people

Creativity is a long-term endeavor. It must be cultivated. Culture must be fostered from the board of directors downwards; otherwise, no real sponsorship takes place. The scientific methodology is required for achieving high performance, facilitating creativity teams and providing proper creativity tools. People must enthusiastically participate, getting proper empowerment and noticing that their initiatives do arrive at the end. Teams are built on a high level of people’s motivation (self-motivation), which cannot be bought. Through social learning and development, creativity is either cultivated by positive reinforcement or squelched through negative reinforcement. Generally speaking, the more innovative employees are, the less tolerant to structures (policies, rules and paradigms) and less respectful of consensus they are. Innovators often prefer to “do things differently” and such major remolding or breaking of paradigms means loosening structures and challenging consensus until the new way is adopted and becomes the new structure or paradigm. Creativity is a long-term endeavor.

11. Being innovative is a state of mind, which is more important than doing any type of innovation

Employees need to be given 'permissions' and encouraged to be innovative. Just as we find energy is released from one steady state to another, we discover innovation from our outer realities attempts to change to the steady state of our inner self. This energy is called being innovative. From the organizational management perspective, create a safe environment for helping people learn from failures and making people feel more comfortable with chaos, uncertainty and ambiguity. Allow time for playing and experimenting. Failure should be regarded as a learning experience rather than offense. Build the culture of continuous learning and encourage breakthrough thinking. It is important to have a heterogeneous group setting and let people view an idea from different perspectives, brainstorm diverse thoughts and ideas, apply varying thinking techniques. It is also important to set rules for safeguarding the status quo, but not for stifling innovation. If you want to rejuvenate a "creative culture" in the company, you need to give talent a "place" to expand their knowledge, a chance to apply their ideas, recognition of their idea, no unconscious bias or hidden rules in the office and build a highly collaborative team in the company. Create and nurture an environment in your organization in which humility is appreciated, curiosity is encouraged, and creative thinking is rewarded. You will be amazed that this simple mindset and appropriate actions with this mindset will turn the creative machine in your organization beyond your imagination.

All humans are naturally creative. Today, innovation can happen anywhere, anytime; it expands both horizontally and vertically. It’s the state of mind to think and do things from a new angle. It’s important to set core digital principles for building and nurturing a working environment in the organization where curiosity is encouraged, and creative thinking is rewarded. The great leaders understand this and with that understanding, they cultivate an innovative culture and take their organizations to the pinnacle of the unbelievable success of innovation. The key is to hold people accountable for bringing premium innovation results and reaching the high level of innovation management maturity.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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