Unleashing the Power of Diverse Minds

by | Mar 6, 2024

Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

Innovation has always been an indispensable driver of progress, reshaping industries, and propelling businesses forward. But why do some organizations just do it better than others? Those organizations practice an important principle – they embrace diversity.

It’s often thought that innovation is the domain of a privileged few, characterized by ingenious thinkers, executives, creatives, or right-brainers, who single-handedly come up with brilliant ideas. However, the true essence of innovation is far more empowering and all-encompassing—it is a quality that resides within every individual, regardless of titles, roles, and backgrounds. A cornerstone of our ideation sessions has therefore always been including a wide variety of individuals to participate in the process of creating new ideas.

Diversity of thought

No one has a monopoly on creative thinking or the ability to see things from a different perspective. And yes, while certain individuals may innately be more creative thinkers, the potential for innovation is available to everyone. In the right conditions, anyone can be an idea machine.

Change things up

Encouraging individuals across all levels to share their unique insights and ideas creates a culture of problem-solving. During many typical brainstorming sessions, you will find similar people, going into a typical conference room, in front of a whiteboard, with the idea that in this sea of sameness, new ideas will be generated. That poor team is doomed from the start. It’s not so surprising then that the ideas are less innovative and more likely just incremental improvements.

Nurturing a culture of innovation

Organizations can enhance their innovation capabilities by:

1.    Embracing Inclusivity: At your next brainstorming session, stretch the boundaries of who you would normally include. Invite individuals from other departments, interns as well as executives, and even some from outside your organization.

2.    Changing the landscape: Please just have your brainstorming sessions anywhere but in the usual space. Go outside if you can, a different building, anything but the same room where you may have always held these types of sessions. There’s a reason why new thoughts blossom by simply taking a walk or an activity that breaks your normal routine.

3.    Following through: Don’t ask for ideas only to ignore them. It’s important to not only have a wide variety of people participate in the ideation process, but also to stay engaged with them through the entire life cycle. Not all ideas are good ideas, but all need to see how their collective ideas are implemented, transformed into something even greater, or possibly shelved as a future potential initiative. And most importantly, helping them understand why.

4.    Acknowledge and communicate: Recognizing and applauding innovative contributions—regardless of their scale—reinforces the principle that everyone plays a pivotal role in propelling innovation. Even if not everyone in the company can participate in some form of an innovation session, if you are encouraging their input and ideas, ensure it is being acknowledged..

5.    Fostering a creative environment: It can be difficult to just ask people to take the time and go be creative without providing them with the resources to do so. Your organization doesn’t have to go as far as Google’s famous 20% policy where they allow employees to spend at least 20% of their time on pet projects, but there needs to be some allocation for people to take on the added role of helping your organization come up with breakthrough ideas.

Creativity resides in the heart of every individual across your entire organization. It should not be an annual event or a special exercise, but a mindset embraced by the company, backed with up with processes and support. Even if innovation sessions are often led by marketing or your strategic planning group, it’s important to remember that they may lead the process, but all are involved. Your organization’s ability to harness the full breadth of everyone’s innate capability to tap into their creativity holds massive potential for innovative progress.

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