Guidelines for Fostering Innovation in any Business Environment

By April 25, 2008

Adaptive Path Strategy and design consultants conducted a workshop at the Web 2.0 Expo outlining ways to develop a creative and efficient work environment.   Bryan Mason and Sarah Nelson, both from Adaptive Path, explored how stag

e managers, conductors, and screen writers build their work environments to be creative and efficient. Since technology is an emerging discipline that is constantly changing, it's important to be innovative. So, how does a company stay on the forefront of innovation while focusing on business? Here's what they learned from creative industries that work as a group, have hard deadlines, and need to constantly change up the creative process.   “Cross-train your employees” on different roles within a team to establish greater empathy for other team members. The cross pollination of skills will broaden a team member's overall skill make up. Ultimately, the team becomes stronger.   “Rotate the creative leadership” to ensure a more dynamic team. Again, this will broaden skills and provide more opportunity for members to support each other. If need be, it's easier to hand off certain points of a project, thereby improving project management.   When it comes to creating new ideas and putting them into place, Mason and Wilson suggest “actively turning the corner.” In other words, quickly move from the divergent phase to the convergent phase.    It's as important to collect the ideas as it is to effortlessly move to the phase deciding what has priority. Ideas will get implemented faster.   “Know your roles.” At a certain point, a hierarchy needs to be established and this can be done through effective communication. Team members should know what their role is on a project so that they can provide the necessary support.   “Practice as a team.” Practicing is not just about the self, but about how you work within a team, kind of like what any good sports team needs to succeed. When a team practices, a collective process forms and projects are managed better, especially under pressure. An entire team can suffer if even one member doesn't know his or her part well.   “Make your mission explicit.” Google, for instance, has a knowable mission statement: “to organize the world's information.” Knowing your company's creative mission will further new ideas. It's important to be clear about what you're doing and how you communicate it to others.   “Kill your darlings softly.” Basically, this is a dependable and organized way of gently moving ideas out. If something doesn't fit the mission, then push it aside and move on. Be affirmative without being negative.   “Remember that leadership is a service.” Whoever is in charge needs to make sure the creative people can do their jobs. Leadership is the primary service position, the one that brings the group together.   “Generate projects around creative interests.” Work from the bottom up rather than from the top down. Give employees projects that captivate and challenge them. Keeping staff engaged on an on-going basis will generate profitable ideas.   “Remember your audience.” The experience is not just about you, it's also about your client. Think of new ways to bring them a new experience. What can you do better or differently?   Finally, “celebrate failure.” Failure can be a learning experience because taking risks inevitably leads to better ideas and a more solid vision.   By Kathleen Clark   Feedback on an Article? E-mail us at

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas