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Organisations are beginning to recognise the truth – that they either they innovate or die. Innovation is about moving into new territory. It is about improving or enhancing the existing products, process or services, that eventually results in new products, process or services. Successful business firms know the art of transforming the collective knowledge and talents of its employees, into new products, process or services that lead to better economic gain. Unlike invention, innovation always leads to economic benefit. Innovations appear to be the only option if you wish to grow your business. Innovation enables you to ahead of your competitors.

Innovation requires new ideas. It is the creative approach that brings in new ideas. Enabling Innovation at work is basically about harnessing the employees’ Talent, Abilities, Skills and Knowledge (T.A.S.K.) in a coordinated manner using creative thinking process so that the organisation is able to create and sustain the right environment within the organisation that will encourage Innovation at Work. How can we enable Innovation in our workplace?

IBM in a report titled ‘Expanding the Innovation Horizon‘, which was based on the discussion with 765 CEOs throughout the world offers the following considerations that can help the business organisations to become more effective when embracing innovation:

  • Think broadly, act personally and manage the innovation mix’.
  • Make your business model deeply different’.
  • ‘Ignite innovation through business and technology integration
  • ‘Defy collaboration limits
  • ‘Force an outside look … every time’.

To those of us who would like to use an easy to understand model to work, I would recommend you use the 4C‘s approach to creating the right work environment that will encourage and enable innovation at your workplace. To enable Innovation sat work, you need to pay attention to the 4C‘s –

  • Commitment,
  • Competency,
  • Collaboration, and
  • Coordination.

Commitment

Unless there is a commitment to change and innovate nothing will happen. The failure to innovate in the workplace is largely due to lack of commitment on the part of employees at all level. Managers need to demonstrate their commitment and concern for the greater level of innovation at work. Staff briefings, informal discussions and holding short meetings based on ‘what if….’ scenario based discussion will convince people the need to be serious about becoming more innovative. There will be no commitment without a thorough understanding.

Competency

While commitment brings the employees to the level of willingness, managers should recognise the importance of providing the necessary Abilities, Skills and Knowledge to get started. Equipping the employees with the right competencies, make innovation happen, as employees are able to develop ideas. Without the right skills, employees will not feel competent to get the job done. Only when employees feel competent, will they move from their comfort zone to creativity & innovation zone. Formal training of employees is one way to provide the basic skills to all employees. Alternatively, you can the Internet to access a whole range of tools and techniques and share them through staff meetings. You may visit blogs such as http://lifeskills4success.blogspot.com/ for more tools, you can use when training your team members.

Collaboration

Effective problem solving and idea generation requires a collaborative approach. Collaboration means being able to work as a team towards a common goal, despite personal differences. There is a greater tolerance towards diversity and yet at the same time, the presence of diversity brings about better results. It is critical to identify the major barriers that prevent effective collaboration and be eliminated. Collaboration fosters innovation. That is a fact.

Coordination

While collaboration fosters innovation, one must not forget the reality that at a time to get things done, we need to work with other teams, units and departments. This is basically about coordinating out effort and work so that we can use other people’s talents, Abilities, Skills and Knowledge. Coordination to be effective, team members must be trained on good human skills. It is the ability to get things done across work teams and organisational structure that makes all the difference. Creating a reliable system to coordinate is necessary for a seamless coordination across different functional areas.

With the 4C’s in place, it is possible to get innovative solutions to an organisation’s products, process and services. Reading research articles and books on innovation is one way to get ready to get started with the 4C’s. That’s the way to enable innovation work at the workplace.