Activities to inspire idea generation

Innovation, differentiation and value creation are among the goals set by any company. In order to accomplish them, idea generation is essential. To contribute in their conception is a task that can be encouraged by different techniques and activities in which every member of the organization must be involved.

Precisely, one of the techniques being implemented regarding identification of opportunities to innovate is based on collaboration among companies from diverse sectors with, particularly, those technology-related. So says a report by Accenture, in which 85% of the surveyed firms consider that such combined effort will grant them access to new technologies and help them thrive in their markets. Nevertheless, it’s also pointed out that this collaboration will be truly beneficial only if strategic, operational and cultural gaps among different organizations are overcome. For that to happen, there must be an open-minded attitude towards new procedures, reluctance must be left behind and receptiveness to projects conceived outside the usual environment of the company must be shown.

Collaboration as a driver of innovation is also behind another technique that can be carried out within companies. It is all about breaking away from the traditional distribution of employees in departments and mixing them together in the workplace so that diverse points of view may give way to notions from other fields of knowledge.

There are tools to enhance exchange of ideas among employees, such as Slack, where propositions can be discussed or the development process of a project can be followed. This way, everybody feels that every opinion is taken into account, hence helping to overcome certain fears, such as making proposals, that some people may have in more formal meetings.

Changes in arrangement and the creation of a virtual space for brainstorming can be classified as internal and informal activities. It’s important to take into account that they mustn’t be conducted or monitored by a manager. Quite the opposite occurs with internal and formal activities, such as workshops and presentations, which include corporate goals to be accomplished by the participants.

There are also occasions when, in order to have a good idea, the best thing is to stop being focused on it for a while and perform any other activity, such as going for a walk. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, when the task being performed requires a bit of imagination, taking a walk helps thinking in a more creative way. That’s why one of the activities being favoured lately by companies is the creation of relaxation areas for employees, even allowing them to go outside the facilities.

Freedom is crucial in activities classified as informal and external, since they’re put into practice outside the facilities and without corporate supervision, although the company must favour that its employees relate to communities of their interest that provide them with new ideas eventually. For instance, a firm in which design is pivotal can promote attendance to exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.

A further step to ensure that employees get involved with individuals outside their company is to register them in courses, meetings or summits. These are considered to be external and formal activities and they’re intended to make participants gain some kind of knowledge to be shared internally afterwards, which is something that contributes to the best interest of the company.

All in all, the feature shared by all these techniques for idea generation is that they’re based on making those individuals involved in a project feel they’re part of it, and on providing them with enough confidence to voice their thoughts. In addition, all of them promote both communication and to leave aside any hesitation that may arise before discovering points of view from another department or organization.

Sources: Science Daily, Harvard Business Review, Accenture and GlocalThinking.