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Fostering Innovation: The Difference Between Wild Success and Struggling to Continue


When the right people, processes, and metrics come together, they can innovate, inspire. Fostering innovation capabilities in your company can be the difference between wild success, and struggling to continue. What you need is to create a system of enablers to work together to support innovation.The team should evaluate innovation practices and create and measure benchmarks. Further, they should create a mechanism to define and launch growth.

Central to all of this is creating a culture of innovation through skilled collaboration and committed leadership. Create a new generation of innovation leaders, and a system of governance within the company to enable future fast and smart decision-making.

The Role of Imagination in Company Culture

Encourage brainstorming methods such as incorporating outside views and considering unconventional viewpoints, which truly reflects the use of imagination. Further, imagination is meant to cultivate open mindedness when considering new concepts by providing enough time for thorough thought and determining the reason behind associative thoughts. Consider the importance of recording thoughts and doing away with hierarchies for the purpose of imaginative discussion, which makes sense in terms of both theory of mind and brainstorming given the need for continuity and unfettered investigation of the “other”- whatever that may be in either case. Consider also the importance of structure in this processes to ensure that divergent ideas converge, so that the new ideas are fully synthesized and incorporated into the collective thinking. This would be applied to brainstorming both for the purposes of improving collective understanding through cooperative, interactive thinking.

Imagination is defined by the U.S.-government prepared 2009 “A Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis” as ‘an unconstrained group process designed to generate new ideas and concepts’. Its importance is expounded upon in a section that focuses on imaginative thinking as a structured innovation technique. Imaginative thinking becomes useful as a brainstorming mechanism for considering unprecedented possibilities.

Collaborate While Avoiding Groupthink

A manager needs to build a team of experts with in-depth knowledge of the operating environment, the target’s personality, and the style of thinking used. Ensure that there is openness and a willingness to consider new ideas critically. Make sure that the innovators do not simply mirror one another, but continue to generate new ideas and critique ideas introduced by their colleagues. Critical thinking is key for brainstorming in group settings so as to avoid groupthink, which reduces innovation and can even be dangerous to running an effective operation.

The impact that imagination has on collective intelligence can easily be extrapolated from the above research. It has been shown that openness is vital to the cooperation necessary for the growth factory to achieve a high degree of collective intelligence in their endeavors, and for understanding the intentions behind the actions of the other side without simply projecting one’s own intentions onto that other side. Given that imagination is a critical component, we know that imagination plays an important role in collective intelligence. What exactly this role is remains open for further postulation and study but imagination is an important tool in collective intelligence, and therefore vital to innovation capabilities.

Related: 6 Tips for Staying on Top of Your Business’ Finances

Manifesting Results

Utilizing imagination does not mean being serendipitous or whimsical. It means creating an environment where original thinking is welcomed. This can even be done reliably through the “growth factory”. With a dedicated purpose, its effectiveness can be improved over time by measuring the capabilities against benchmarks and considering ways to troubleshoot any problems that arise. Through a systems approach, imagination is, in fact, less constrained, because original thinking is not simply discarded after a hackathon or ad hoc task force. Instead, a sort of think tank is formalized, which provides ample framework for innovation.

Make sure that there is a growth blueprint that details the types of innovation you are pursuing, including goals and guidelines for getting there. Produce systems from the beginning to end, with tangible results. Determine your scale of measurement, and how you will be evaluating production. Governance should enable this management structure to function. Further, involve the right people–people with the skills and motivation to make your endeavors successful time and time again.

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