Ingenuity at work: nurture your ideas and those of others = a winning formula

Ideas have always been an important part of business. During the pandemic, most of us have had to embrace ingenuity in one way or another as we adapt to big changes. How do we ensure this continues? Is generating ideas an inherent talent or a learned skill? And how do we nurture creative thinking both in ourselves and in those around us?

 

Never has there been a more crucial time for ingenuity and innovation in leadership than this year. We’ve likely all had to use it in one form or another, whether that’s been working out how to pivot our business during lockdown, managing a team remotely, keeping staff members enthusiastic or finding ways to steer projects around all the changes.

And while it’s been tough, there will ultimately be some good to come out of it, especially if we can retain and build upon that sense of ingenuity that we’ve found in recent times. 

What do Airbnb, Uber, Groupon and Mailchimp all have in common? They were all formed during the last downturn, showing that great things can spring from tough times.

At the same time, experts are predicting that creative thinking is going to become a very important skill in years to come as the rise in automation and AI take over many current jobs.

Now more than ever it’s crucial to nurture your ingenuity and that of others around you.

Develop your ideas

In their book ‘Ingenuity in Practice’, Paul Kirkham and co-authors argue that generating ideas is a skill that can be learnt and practiced.

As organisational psychologist Adam Grant says in his Ted Talk, there are some surprising habits of original thinkers, including allowing failure, procrastination (or, is it thinking?) and ‘idea doubt’ which allows you to keep questioning ideas and therefore make them better.

 

There’s lots of techniques out there you can use to help get your own ideas flowing.

 

That’s why we run a lot of problem-solving exercises in our training. We mostly do these as a team, including our horses to inspire the best group work and creative thinking.  Sometimes, circumstances like these will unleash our own ingenuity. At other times, it will inspire others. Either and indeed both are important.

 

And those of others

 

So, how do we nurture creativity in others? As this article from HBR argues, your employees have all the creativity you need, but you need to enable them; “most leaders try to scope creativity by defining the path — who should contribute and how — rather than defining the goal and asking for anyone to contribute”.

 

We see examples all the time of how allowing all team members space and time to express their ideas is a good strategy. Once, we were working to solve a problem and one person who was more senior was dominating the conversation, assertively throwing out ideas which didn’t click with the group. Eventually, a young woman who had been quieter the whole time put forward her idea. It was clever, well-articulated and it worked!

 

Remember, everyone’s personalities and communication styles are different, so finding a way to listen to and include everyone is key.

How do you nurture ingenuity and capture creative ideas? Let me know in the comments. For more information or to register for our free upcoming Wholistic Leadership webinar, shoot us an email info@lepd.com.au

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