Training and Skills to Encourage Innovation
Innovation doesn’t just appear out of thin air and magic. It’s a process that is affected by how your business is built. If you want an innovative business then you have to train people in the skills that lead to inspiration.
What are those skills?
If you want to be innovative, then you have to understand what has come before. By picking apart the processes and products you already work with, you can find the weaknesses and assumptions to be overcome, as well as understanding what’s useful.
This can be tackled directly through courses on critical thinking. It can also be learnt through applying analytical frameworks to your business. Approaches such as lean thinking are founded in critical analysis.
Problem solving skills are great for encouraging innovation. After all, a large part of why you want innovators is so that you can avoid the problems other businesses run into.
Problem solving comes in three steps – examining the problem, considering solutions, and learning for the future. That last one is vital, as it can help you in avoiding similar problems next time. Structured training that highlights these stages, and the individual steps within them, can really help, as long as it’s associated with exercises that enforce the learning.
Trying novel problem-solving techniques can also be good. Something like the six thinking hats can help you to analyse and solve problems in new ways. Try practicing it on a problem that isn’t work related, where participants feel more free to think outside the box. Then get them to apply the same technique to a real problem and see how it pans out.
Communication is vital to innovation. Part of this is the ability to communicate ideas and so win support for them. But far more important is the ability to listen.
Two aspects of listening are vital to innovation – active listening and open listening.
To be an active listener means not just to hear what someone is saying but to encourage them and show that you’re interested. This builds people up and makes it easier for them to try something new. It encourage innovation in others.
Being open encourages innovation in yourself. Our first instinct when we hear a view different from our own is to shut it down. But this means just having the same old ideas. If you can open up and embrace other people’s perspectives then you can see a situation from more directions, and so come up with more innovative improvements.
To create anything truly new, you have to be creative. So provide training in skills that might not directly relate to your work but that encourage that creativity. Improv is a particularly powerful example, as it’s all about working with others, building on their ideas rather than enforcing your own.
With creative, communicative staff who can analyse and solve problems, you’ll get a culture where innovation thrives. The way to get those staff is to train them in these critical and often under-appreciated skills.