Many people confuse creativity with innovation. Creativity is the ability to bring forth new ideas. Innovation is the transformation of selected ideas into improved processes, marketable goods and services. It is the conversion of ideas into profits that is the essence of innovation. Creativity or the power of idea creation is simply the starting point. This brings us to the key point – it is innovation, not creativity that ultimately matters.

What is Innovation Quotient?

There are many creative companies with high C.Q (Creativity Quotients) , the measurement of the average number of ideas generated per employee. The problem is that many of these high C.Q companies suffer from low I.Q ( Innovation Quotient). I.Q. is the measurement of the percentage of ideas that can evolve into tangible applications that bring about improved performance and better profits. The challenge therefore is how to create the conceptual conveyor belt that transports chosen ideas to implementation leading to innovation.

Any Company Can Raise Its I.Q

Any company can raise its I.Q. What then is standing in the way of companies that fail to innovate?

In many cases, it is their tried-and-true formula that brought them past successes could become their greatest enemy of innovation. This is because businesses with a winning formula are understandably hesitant to change. Over time, every business model and every strategy goes stale. Indeed, the lifespan of successful business strategies has been rapidly declining in this era of fast technological changes and intensive competition. Recognizing and acknowledging this fact is the first step towards raising your corporate I.Q.

Another major obstacle to innovation is the lack of Creative Leadership. Jack Welch, former chairman of G.E’s who has proven his credentials as a Creative Leader has this to say: “Today’s hierarchical structure, giving the CEO control over strategy, organisation and information creates an organisation with its face toward the CEO and its ass toward the customer.”

A truly creative leader sets an example for openness and imagination and assessment of ideas from any quarters irregardless of rank, file and age or source, whether internal or external. A creative leader creates the conditions where human ingenuity can flourish.

Principles of Innovation

According to Margaret J. Wheatley , a creativity consultant and a professor of management innovation means relying on everyone's creativity based on her belief that organizations are living systems rather than machines. She outlines six principles on the human dimension for innovation.

1. Meaningful Engagement

If we want people to be innovative, we must discover what is important to them, and we must engage them in meaningful issues. The simplest way to discover what's meaningful is to notice what people talk about and where they spend their energy. Put ideas, proposals, and issues on the table as experiments to see what's meaningful to people rather than as recommendations for what should be meaningful to them. No two people see the world exactly the same way.

2. Encourage Diversity

By encouraging diversity in an organization, innovative solutions are being created all the time since different people do things differently. There is a high probability that the innovation that the company needs is already being practiced somewhere in that system. Failure to encourage unique and diverse ways of doing things will destroy your company’s capacity to adapt.

3. Involve anyone who is interested

Involve anyone who is going to be affected by change to contribute ideas to bring about a better organization. Those who are not invited may rebel or worse still sabotage the entire process.

Most people are smart. They can figure ways to get around company’s policies which they dislike. Some even create their own networks and system. Fighting them may be futile. By engaging them, system your company can harvest the invisible intelligence that exists throughout your organization.

4. Unity in Diversity

The cacophony of diverse opinions frequently shares a common purpose. This common purpose is what binds the people together. As people discover something whose importance that they share, they will want to work together, no matter what their differences are initially.

5. People Will Always Surprise Us

Listening to colleagues -- their diverse interpretations, their stories, what they find meaningful in their work -- always transforms relationships. The act of listening to each other always brings people closer together. It is important not to attach any label to anyone. Some people may not be likeable or behave in a way that could be considered odd. However, by listening intently, they could surprise you with their talents. It is only by working together all of you will be able to achieve you’re your common dream.

6. Rely on Human Goodness

People want to help. People want to contribute. Everyone wants to feel creative and hopeful again. As leaders, as neighbors, as colleagues, it is time to turn to one another, to engage in the intentional search for human goodness.

Innovation comes more from the heart than the head. Companies must involve all its people and tap into their creative energies that takes into account the human dimension of encouraging diversity, sharing a sense of purpose and recognizing that each person is talented unique individual. When people are part of a cause and not just a cog in the wheel, your corporate IQ ( innovation quotient ) will zoom.

Author's Bio: 

With a post-graduate education at the Imperial College( London), Dr YKK is an international speaker, trainer, and innovation consultant to governments, multinational corporations and SMEs. A member of the Creative Skills Training Council (CSTC), he is also best-selling author, masterful storyteller and a certified laughter guru. He has 12 books published and his best-selling book “You Are Creative” has been reprinted 15 times and published in 5 languages.

Originally from Malaysia, Dr. YKK moved to Australia in 2007 under the category of Distinguished Talent on Creativity & Innovation.

Dr.YKK was the only person from among the British Commonwealth countries to be selected to serve on the pioneer panel of 8 international creativity expert advisers to Lego on its global project “The Next Generation Forum”.
With wide international exposure, rich and diverse work experience and up-to-date general knowledge, Dr.YKK connects well with his audience.

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