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Managing productivity, profits and people is not always easy. While successful corporations adopt a whole range of strategies to become successful, almost all of them focus on their employees. Managers attempt to build practical skills covering all areas of operation. What employees basically need is a core skill that will enable them to manage and succeed in the very diverse work situations and challenges of the 21st-century workplace. They need to learn to THINK. The smart and creative thinking is critical to bring out new and innovative products and services. Managers should ‘Make Room for New Ideas’. Managers need to create the right work environment to ‘Make Room for New Ideas’. Why is it some employees are able to come up with new and innovative ideas, while the majority is unable to think even one idea to improve the work practices. The problem does not lie only with employees alone. Their colleagues and their supervisors have a significant effect on the creative and innovative behaviours of the employees.

It is true to say that individual personality and attitude play a dominant role in creating innovative ideas. That is not the only component in the creativity and innovation process at work. The colleagues (peer) and the supervisor with their own personality and attitude have the potential to influence the final outcome. In other words, an individual who is talented with the gift of creative personality and attitude eventually may not contribute any new ideas, simply because of the absence of favourable work environment.

As managers, you need to make a concerted effort to reach out to all employees at all levels in the organisation. All activities and training programs should attempt to create the right environment that will encourage creativity. You may adopt the following measures to make way for new ideas:

  • Encourage employees to keep an open mind: this is the first step if you want to make way for new ideas. The individual employee, the colleagues and the supervisor collectively should be encouraged to adopt this mindset. When they show signs of rigidity in their attitude, encourage them to ask: What else …
  • Do not micro-manage Any attempt to keep track of everything in the workplace. Provide greater autonomy to the employees, so that they are free to think out of the box.
  • Keep your S.O.P. Short and sweet: The presence of large, comprehensive Standard Operating procedures (S.O.P.) is the surest way to kill any and every new idea.
  • Encourage them to ask “What if….” When the team members are seeking creative solutions to a problem, encourage them to ask: “What if …..?”. This is the best way to challenge the age-old assumption, the greatest barrier towards innovation.
  • Insist on more than one solution: Letting employees know that it is in the interest of the group and the business organisation to seek more than one solution to a problem. You may start with three minimum solutions and gradually increase it to 4, 5,6 and eventually 7. The moment they start asking “What if’…, generating more than 3 solutions shall not is a problem.
  • Make the group diverse: Ensure team members are from a diverse background in terms of age, gender, experience, culture, race and area of specialisation. Involving people from other units, departments is one of the best ways to seek new and innovative ideas.
  • Make the Idea Generating sessions FUN: start the session with some unexpected activities- distribute fruits, candies or chocolates. A pleasant positive emotional experience will bring out new ideas.
  • Conduct regular Brainstorming sessions: Make sure the facilitator is well trained in the art of conducting an effective brainstorming session.
  • Ask employees children for new ideas: What better way than tap on the great potential of your employee’s children.
  • Provide creativity training: High performance in any areas depends on employees’ Abilities, Skills and Knowledge. Getting their foundation right on these three areas is the best way to get started when trying to make way for new ideas.

‘Make room for new Ideas’ also require the managers to eliminate the old and useless practices and ideas that occupy the room. Review your current policies and practices and be prepared to get rid of them. Until you create adequate space, you will not be able to bring in new ideas. Get ready to ‘Make Room for New Ideas. Master some basic techniques that will place you in a better position to get started.