Kareem Shaker, PMI-RMP, PMP, is a senior
manager, projects and enterprise risk at Dubai
World, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Follow him
on Twitter at @kareemshaker.
1. Decentralize innovation
innovate. Too often, organizations with high innovation potential fall flat, as bureaucracy, cultural barriers or fear of failure throttle creative nergy and ideas. Here are a few
tips that can help release creativity and innovation:
Limiting innovation to the R&D department is not
effective. Organizations should be looking for creative ideas everywhere. Even angry customers can
expose issues that spur novel solutions. If innovation is taken seriously, the entire staff should be
looking for creative ideas.
2. Smash bureaucracy
“If you put fences around people, you get sheep,”
former 3M CEO William L. McKnight once said.
Creativity requires minds not hemmed in by the
fences that most old-school organizations deem
sacred. Too much control and policing will never
inspire people and will drain their innovation. A
sheep will always be scared to make
mistakes, but these missteps in reality
can be stepping-stones toward innovation. The innovative organization strikes
the right balance between governance
3. Mastery is the key
A truly innovative organization should
strive to bridge the gap between strategic goals and values, and people’s
aspirations. As Daniel H. Pink writes
in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth
About What Motivates Us, if you
help employees master their jobs and
achieve their aims, they will naturally be
more motivated to identify new ideas.
An innovative culture and approach to
getting things done starts with employees. “The
future belongs to those who learn more skills and
combine them in creative ways,” Robert Greene
notes in his book Mastery.
4. Show the big picture
Team members can get caught up in details and
laser-focused on their tasks, forgetting the larger
purpose. Making the big picture crystal clear can
motivate people to innovate. The parable of two
workers doing identical work cutting stones exemplifies this. When asked by a traveler what they were
doing, the first one replied, “I’m cutting stones.” The
second worker—who seemed more energetic and
happier—said, “I’m building a cathedral.”
5. Dare to amplify
If you believe that self-done is always well-done,
your innovative product might never see the light
or achieve its intended benefits. While most blue-chip companies fiercely protect their intellectual
property, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk took a
bold step toward collaboration when he decided to
allow other automakers to use his company’s electric car patents. The move wasn’t just part of Mr.
Musk’s mission to reduce the world’s reliance on
oil—it could help develop new markets for Tesla’s
Don’t let your organization’s hidden
innovation powers go to waste.
By Kareem Shaker, PMI-RMP, PMP