In an age where businesses compete based on innovation, the ideas in Adam Grant's book, "Originals How Non-Conformists Move the World," provide HR leaders with a toolkit to help increase creativity in the workplace. In the latest in a series on must-read books for HR leaders, we're exploring how to hire for creativity, stimulate original thinking in departments and teams and identify when procrastination can drive strategic breakthrough.
Here's a look at three insights HR leaders can consider implementing to help increase the level of innovation at their organizations.
1. Teach Your Team How to Think Creatively
Did you know creative thinking skills can be taught? Grant notes that this starts by creating opportunities for individuals to gain experience outside of their core domain. Scientists who won Nobel prizes were "dramatically more likely to be involved in the arts than less accomplished scientists," says Grant. An HR leader who understands the needs of sales, marketing or frontline business units can be effective as a strategic partner.
Another important element of teaching your team creative thinking skills is to encourage them to learn how to manage their emotions and effectively communicate their ideas. According to Harvard Business Review, one strategy for fostering innovation is connecting colleagues with peers who share aspirations. Grant suggests that original thinkers seek feedback from peers rather than managers or subordinates for balanced and helpful commentary.
Creating a culture where individuals expect to question the status quo, identify problems and generate suggestions for solutions can contribute to increased innovation.
2. Interupt Your Standard Process
Has your HR department approached core challenges in the same way for years? If so, it may be time to break out of a work process rut. According to Grant, a study has showed that there's a correlation between creativity and the web browser people use — people who use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox were more likely to be creative than those who used Internet Explorer. The defining factor wasn't something obvious like tech savvy or past work experience — it was simply whether they showed the initiative to go out and download the browser versus maintaining the status quo that came with their computer operating system. Encourage your team to break out of ruts by:
- Having leadership model innovative behavior by asking questions, accepting feedback and limiting defensiveness
- Changing your hiring strategy from one that focuses on cultural fit to culture contribution
- Opening things up to further consideration and questions
3. Change Your Relationship With Productivity and Procrastination
Grant argues that strategic procrastination can actually help individuals come up with better ideas. Not only does having more time allow ideas to fully form, but it can encourage drawing on lessons learned from other people in a similar field. Look at whether you're providing the right amount of space and support needed to come up with visionary ideas.
Grant's book, "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World," offers hope to HR leaders facing difficult questions about how to promote creativity and innovation. As technology increasingly levels the field in diverse industries, human capital management will become a vital part of staying competitive. Understanding what helps your team do their best work and come up with breakthrough ideas can enable you to create the conditions for long-term competitive success.
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