Innovation brings in great opportunities for business and individuals. The enormous growth of data across the globe brings many opportunities to identify problems and take corrective actions. In this context, how much are we prepared to change our leadership styles, adapt new ways of thinking, and promote innovative ideas that can result in better outcomes? We spend majority of our efforts and time focused on traditional work styles that have been efficient for a very long time. We follow the same dogma in leading people and say that our customers are satisfied because we give them clean code and on-time delivery.
However, we frequently miss a critical aspect in our teams and at the organizational level and forget to ask, “How can we better understand data from a customer needs perspective and improve their business? What will my customer do with the data that is ingested and information that is presented? Why is this problem important for the customer?”
We talk about innovation often, but we find it difficult to change our attitude that helps us think differently. Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter bring out transparency in information and highlight the growing needs of the customer in various domains like healthcare, banking, and government. Organizations should start elevating their innovative ideas by encouraging their employees to be creative. We should complement traditional efficiency with innovation and creativity in order to boost customer satisfaction.
India has a major advantage in the global area with the vast number of young Indians with curious minds. Organizations can tap into this creative force by encouraging and supporting these innovative minds to develop novel solutions that strengthen business-client relationships. There are many creative geniuses within various organizations and the key is to show them the way to experiment and support their talents. Some of the key aspects that need change are:
Attitude as the greatest accessory: I do not believe people are born with their attitude. Attitude is nurtured and changes over lifetime. Attitude is what we adopt to cope with our everyday life and help us move forward. A positive attitude is our great ally in the path to innovation. Changing attitude is not easy but it can happen when we ask ourselves “What is that fulfills my career or makes me excited to come to work for next 20 or 30 years? What is the change I should bring in my organization to make my people adapt to change?” If attitudes are contagious then we should start idolizing the great leaders from the past and future.
Beat the monotonous work: We repeatedly do routine things at work that make us less or not interested about the work we do. Curiosity and innovation are ignited when we do the things we love and feel passionate about. However, it is not always possible to avoid the routine work activities. In such cases, it is important to have a healthy balance between routine and activities that inspire creativity.
Teamwork/ know your colleague: The movie “Remember the Titans” is one of best examples for teamwork where the coach says know your teammates, their likes, and dislikes. Multi-disciplinary collaboration within an organization is vital to providing solutions that satisfy customer needs. A positive attitude and collegial spirit are necessary to work with different teams and share knowledge. Emotional connections are important in bringing people together. We can create a positive influence within teams and throughout the organization through good intentions and positive attitude.
Think outside the box: Every employee has great potential that needs to be promoted and tapped by the organization. To motivate and inspire we should create a platform that gives us an opportunity to leave our desks/regular activities once in a while, and bring diverse teams together to share ideas and brainstorm. The ideas generated by these inter-disciplinary and diverse conversations can ignite creativity and innovative approaches. All ideas may not become products, but the discourse opens doors to many innovative ideas. This discourse can help us change traditional methods of working that may benefit from added creativity.
Communication and interpersonal skills: Indian IT companies are transitioning towards client-centric growth (do we deeply know our customer) to explore the different markets. Expectations of efficiency come with the responsibility/ownership towards understanding customer problems. Our creativity and curiosity will be recognized when our personality comes through via effective communication. Your programming code may not show how curious or innovative you are, but your communication and interpersonal skills will tell that story. Along with being a brilliant code-writer it is important to showcase your creativity and innovation through communicating your skills and attitude. Responsibility to show that you are approachable and understand the client’s needs lies within yourself.
Continuous learning: Our education system was rigid with little flexibility, but we are now surrounded by the Internet the holy grail of information. It requires a lifetime of learning to keep you abreast of the latest trends and knowledge. Organizations and individuals should understand the need to adapt a continuous learning process to understanding the ever changing customer needs and grow opportunities that accelerate their growth.
In conclusion, I would like to state that innovation is not forced or dictated upon us, it is rather ignited when creativity is supported at work place and education. Innovation may not always result in immediate financial benefit, but it will definitely yield financial gains in the long run. I would end this post by paraphrasing our 11th President, the honorable A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
“Learning gives creativity
Creativity leads to thinking
Thinking provides knowledge
Knowledge makes your great”