Being Innovative

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I recently attended “Igniting Innovation: Creating a Culture of Opportunity,” a workshop hosted by The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. This session was facilitated by the co-owner of the meyvn group, Tammy Rogers.

The session began by working in a group to define what creativity means and what innovation means. It took me a while to actually formalize my thoughts, but what we determined is that creativity leads tothe development of ideas. Innovation is the process of implementing the ideas. Do you agree?

I tend to have ideas float in and out of my mind almost daily. Some are huge, while others are simplethings that could make work a little more efficient. Sometimes I propose ideas immediately and other times I keep quiet until I’m able to articulate what I’m thinking. I remember as an AmeriCorps Member fresh out of college the ideas and visions I had for my position. After going to Washington DC for a training, I was motivated to change the world and nothing was going to stop me! And then I proposed a
few ideas to my director and got firehosed.

When you firehose someone, things like this are said: “We’ve already tried that. Where do you think we’ll get the money? We don’t have the staff for that. I don’t have time for that. Umm, let me think about it.” Firehosing is toxic and such a creativity crusher. More than any aspect of this session, putting
language around that word made the deepest impact for me personally. To put it simply, it’s how you respond to someone’s idea that can make or break a culture of innovation. Words can kill ideas. Period.

Say for example you have an idea and the backing of your friends, coworkers or whatever people needed to move forward. The process looks something like this:

1. Clarify the situation: put some parameters around an issue you see. What do you know about it? What is happening currently?

2. Generate ideas: be open to any idea, look for what’s right

3. Develop solutions: find ways to make it work, build something cheap and fast, find the most promising ideas

4. Implementation: move forward with the idea

There are a lot of different “innovation processes” online if you want to dig a little deeper, but those are the general steps given by Tammy. Another helpful part of the work session was grouping individuals into the different categories associated with the numbers. Some people tend to be more of the idea generators, while others are all about the process of developing solutions to ideas. Since I identify more with number three on the list, I find that number twos can drive me insane. I think to myself, “Why would you think of a million ideas and not act on any of them?” Then again, where would organizations and businesses be without the number twos? It’s important to learn to appreciate the differences every person or colleague brings to the table.

Sometimes I think we need to make more space for innovation, whether it’s in our own personal lives or at the workplace. Not everything is going to work in reality, but as Tammy stated, “fail well and recover quickly.” Do you need more innovation in your environment? I find that these sort of conversations shake up my daily routines and make me a little more curious. Where can innovation exist in your world? And when it does exist, how can you support those around you during the process?

Interested in reading more on innovation? Check out this post on INC. or this post on Fast Company.

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 Emily Boyd is a Co-Founder of POP UP YOGA DSM

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