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Innovation and How to Harness the Creative Mindset

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Every organization has a diverse group of personalities that respond differently to particular management styles. The creatives of an organization are often the group that stands out and may be misunderstood. How are creatives perceived in your company? What is the nature of the creative type, and how can they best be managed for the purposes of achieving innovation?

First, let's describe what creatives are like. Highly charged creative types may act out or resist when they feel restricted by the confinement of corporate culture. Some creatives may prefer to work alone, in the refuge of their own private work space until they emerge with an "Aha!" moment or solution to a vexing problem. In meetings and NPD ideation sessions, true creatives are the ones that are not afraid to ask the most challenging, thought-provoking questions, to dive head-first into a problem. They do it out of sheer intellectual curiosity and the thrill of probing a conundrum -- that is where they work best. It is that kind of curiosity that leads to innovation for a business, and in turn brings profitable growth and shareholder value for the company.

The best way to harness the creative mindset is to take away restraints in the beginning. During ideation sessions, do not kill the creativity with statements of, "That will never work," or "We tried that before and..." The best way to extinguish the creative flame?

• Dominate the creative process and alienate team players.
• Ignore or override input from the group.
• Refute recommendations by saying, "That won't work because... "
• Fail to recognize creatives' contributions.

Instead, you can apply the practical real-world filters later on in the process, but listen to what creatives have to offer first. Provide a space to share ideas without fear of failure and you may be surprised at what you'll find. Reward those great ideas that attribute to innovation. For creative types, money is not the only motivation -- recognition for achievement is a key driving force, as well. The creative players on your team may be a willful, determined and passionate bunch, but they need to feel empowered to do their best work and it is your job as the Innovation champion to keep that flame alive.

For more tips, see "Robert's Rules of Innovation" on how to bring out the best in your team members and guide them towards a path to innovation.