How to Be More Innovative Every Day – Spiritual teacher and the world renowned speaker Deepak Chopra said – “Don’t think out of the box. Get rid of the box.” If you’re starting out your career or you are a professional who has few years of experience already, you would know that there’s a phrase always being said to the juniors by seniors when they want the latter to be more innovative – “Think out of the box.” To them, Deepak Chopra’s advice is very much relevant. There’s no question of going out of the box when you need to be innovative. Because the innovation and innovative ideas
we need to generate often come from external sources. A book, a quote, an unorthodox menu, a presentation which makes you smile, music or a conversation with a co-worker can create that spark within you to come up with new and innovative ideas.
How would you get rid of the box? In this article we will show you how.
Before that, we want to address something else as well. To some of you who think innovative ideas need a foundation and can’t be created in any circumstances, for them we need to include this section. In this first section we will talk about the usual obstacles you face which stall your creativity and you feel that you need to do only stereo-type work and you can’t think anything different than what’s being done in your organization. Let’s address that and then we will go ahead and show you ways through which you can be more innovative.
Obstacles that stall your innovative ideas
The environment matters. Yes, it does. Even if we say that you need to take charge of your environment and thoughts you think, we are subconsciously affected by the environment and the people around us. What if you want to be innovative, but your boss, the culture of the organization only believes in stereo-typing? What then? In this section we will see few obstacles that may stop your innovativeness. You already know clarity precedes mastery. So, it’s important to know the obstacles to deal with them at later stage.
- Autocratic Leadership: If you’re part of an organization which tells you what to do at what time, then you may feel that you don’t have time for innovative ideas. But the truth is no-one can take charge of your You choose to be part of this organization. And you can be creative and innovative under these circumstances as well. We will show you how.
- Seniority-based promotion/decision making: If you know Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Model, you would know that India, China and other Asian countries offer promotion on the basis of seniority. But it has been changing fast. People and employees should be valued for their experience, but along with experience, there’s another thing which is equally important and that is innovation. No matter where the innovative ideas come from, if it’s valid for company’s growth, it’s worthy of consideration.
- Risk-averse organization: There are many organizations which are very risk-averse. They don’t want to take chance with something disruptive. They love the status-quo and don’t want to test any new ideas. But what they don’t realize is what brought them here will not take them where they want to go. They need new ideas to expand their horizon.
- High-demand working schedule: There are many jobs which need you to be always on your toes. Maybe every day you have no time to relax and you’re always after something. In that case, it’s difficult to be innovative, right? Wrong. We will show you how.
The above are the four typical situations which you may think create obstacle in your path to be innovative. But as stepping stones are often seen as stumbling blocks, what if these limitations offer you the opportunity to be more innovative? We will show you how to be innovative even under any circumstances in the next section.
How to be more innovative every day (almost under all circumstances)?
Being innovative is not a big deal, if you know how to do it on every day basis.
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#1. Build muscles:
Sounds funny? Isn’t it? The matter of fact is being innovative and coming up with new ideas is like building muscles. When you want to build body muscles what would you do? You go to gym and exercise every day. Coming up with new ideas and being innovative are like building muscles in the body. If you do it every day, you will build muscles for innovation and it would be easier over time. In order to be effective in being innovative, author James Altucher advises everyone to come up with 10 new ideas every day. The ideas can be related to anything from personal to professional to spiritual life. If you keep on coming up with 10 new ideas every day, eventually you will become an idea machine and then being innovative will be gravy for you.
#2. Work and speak standing:
There’s a significant benefit if you can stand and deliver or do your work. You would be able to come up with better ideas and can be innovative. If you have observed the sudden change in working style, there are many people who have standing desks and they do their work standing, even writers. The reason behind this is the bad name of sitting. It’s being said that sitting is the new cancer. But standing while working and meeting will not only help you avoid the short-falls of sitting, it will also help you think better and become more innovative as a result.
#3. Seek inspiration everywhere:
You don’t know what makes you think! Thus seek new things everywhere. Business Philosopher Jim Rohn said – “Don’t miss anything. Don’t miss the music, the lyrics, the song, the book. Don’t miss, don’t miss.” To be able to make your mark in your professional life, you can’t afford to miss something. You don’t know maybe a song, the lyric or a quote or a menu or simply a conversation with a co-worker can spark new ideas within you and change your life utterly. Seek out everything for innovative ideas. Don’t just get out of the box, get rid of the box and look around you. There’s always something or the other looming large to offer your innovative ideas and inspiration. Your job is to tap into the opportunity.
#4. Concentrate on tiny:
Do you think that only big ideas work or make a difference? If you think like that have you ever heard this phrase – “Little things are big things”? If you know about compounding effect you would know that what you do on daily basis makes a huge difference over time. For example, suppose, you come up with one idea to change the structure of your schedule which saves you 10 minutes a day. Now you may think 10 minutes don’t make much difference. But calculate 10 minutes for a year and it would be around 2500 minutes of time saved if you work 250 days a year. 2500 minutes of time saved means you would be able to save around 41.67 man hours saved over a year. Can you see the difference now? By saving 10 minutes a day you would be able to generate a week worth of time. Do you think it will make your boss happy no matter how autocratic he is? Of course, it will.
#5. Ask your buddy to join you:
Everyone has a buddy. In a professional setting there would be someone who you can talk to on regular basis almost on anything. Share this idea with him/her of innovating new ideas every day. Ask him/her to join you and be accountable to each other about new ideas. If you do that you will be able to have more ideas together. Suppose, you come up with 10 ideas every day. S/he comes up with 10 ideas again every day. Now when you share these ideas with each other you would be able to have 20 ideas a day in your kitty. Be accountable to each other about coming up with new ideas and being innovative. You can also help each other implement one idea per week among all ideas you come up with. In this case also, both will be accountable to each other. Pick an idea that you think you want to work on. Ask your buddy to pick one which s/he will be working on. And make an action plan. Let each other know about how you’re going to implement the idea. And get going. It would be fun and you both would help each other improve as well.
#6. Stop your brain from stockpiling:
There’s a beautiful idea about communication shared by Professor Matt Abrahams, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He said that if you want to be effective as a speaker you need to block your mind and don’t allow your brain to stockpile. To demonstrate this idea, he picked up all the people sitting in the audience and asked them to point fingers at anything and tell a different name of that thing other than what it really is. For example, if “A” points finger at the floor, he would blurt out – “Car” or if “B” points finger at stage, she would say – “Terrace” and so on and so forth. This method is not only useful in communication, but it is also useful in daily professional life where you want to be more innovative. All you need to do is to stop stockpiling and do it in other way. Take a small project to begin with which doesn’t have much impact on the organization. Then find out a way to complete the project which is different than you normally do. Be innovative. Find out new ideas and then implement. See how it goes. And then keep on doing this experiments in big projects as well.
#7. Get out of your way:
You are the biggest obstacle to your creativity. Whenever you want to be creative, back of the mind you say to yourself some of the things which you shouldn’t say. These things may stem from your childhood experience or the schools or colleges you studied in or someone who was very close to you told you and you believed. But whatever they say may not be true. How would you know whether they’re true or not if you don’t test what they said to you? Suppose in your childhood, your primary teacher told you that you’re too dumb to think about any new ideas and you believed. Now whenever you want to come up with new ideas all you do is to start and stop. Back in your mind, you murmur those words – “I’m too dumb to come up with new ideas” Is it true? Test it. Force yourself to come up with new ideas and stop criticizing yourself. The thing is to come up with ideas for anything. Start with your favourite thing and then gradually you can do the same with your professional projects. To be more innovative in your daily life, all you need to do is to get out of your own way. Don’t be an obstacle. Help yourself get more creative and innovative.
#8. Reframe the situation:
This is a unique way to look at any typical issue you want to solve. Suppose, you want to reduce cost of your organization. But you don’t know how to do it. You know that you are a fan of Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People”. Bring him on. Imagine that Stephen is standing in your place. How would he solve the problem if he were you? Now do that and you would be able to become more innovative. The idea is to ask yourself – “What my hero would do in this situation?” and then come up with ideas from that perspective. Being innovative is all about reframing or restructuring the situation from different perspective. You don’t need to think that you’re in reality. You can use your own imagination and can think that your hero is doing the task and you will solve your problem, both personal and professional.
These are the ideas you should use if you want to be more innovative in your professional and personal life. Some of the ideas will speak to you directly. Some will not work for you. But that’s okay. Pick something that you think will work and start working on them and leave the rest. We are sure that even if you pick one idea from the list and start working, your creativity and innovation will sky-rocket and within few months you won’t be able to recognize even your old self.