How Do You Infuse A Culture Of Innovation?

How Do You Infuse A Culture Of Innovation?
Summary: It is common for human resources professionals to be included in teams designed to foster innovation in today's corporations, institutions and organizations. But how does one even start to persuade other people to adjust their thinking from the comfortable, safe ruts it has settled into?

How To Infuse A Culture Of Innovation

When faced with the challenge, it is a bit like being handed the Schopenhauer Conundrum and asked to solve it.

The German philosopher Albert Schopenhauer who used parables to describe his philosophies back in the nineteenth century used this puzzle to prompt people to consider how to change their mindsets:

"A man of correct insight among those are duped and deluded resembles one whose watch is right while all the clock in town give the wrong time. He alone knows the correct time, but of what use it this to him? The whole world is guided by the clocks that show the wrong time."

When you sit around a boardroom table discussing attitudes of innovation, you may find yourself feeling that the safest road to take is to just surrender to those who say you should stick with the "tired and true", and forget that you know you need to change.

But where would that leave all of the employees when the real truth is finally known? If they have not moved their minds into a sphere of openness to change, they will inevitably be moved out of the organization. That is not a worth result for the human resource professional.

Instead, somehow, you must bravely find the means to explain to everyone that their watches are telling the wrong time. You cannot force them to change, for they will do so in front of you and then revert to their old ways the minute you turn away. In their hearts, they still believe they are right and you are wrong.

When you have to be part of the team for change in your organization, you must instead consider a logical, three-device toolbox to help you solve the conundrum of persuading employees that your timing is correct. Here are three tips:

  1. Gather all the data that supports your position and learn it well. You will be challenged on this, and you need to be sure of your facts. Clarify your thinking. Know precisely why doing what you have always done won't always work. Have examples. Have counter-arguments honed and ready.
  2. Keep your attitude easy-going, calm and open. To a great extent, people will change if they believe that they and their opinions are respected. Acknowledge their knowledge, their expertise, and the innovations they have already introduced or accepted. Invite them into the conversation and use all your communication skills to encourage an open-minded sharing of information. You cannot just go along to get along when you want to foster change, but you can get along to get around objections.
  3. Make the benefits of innovation and change obvious to employees. Let's suppose that the employees really must turn their watches back an hour so your company functions at the same time as your customers. You can illustrate to your team how they will personally benefit from this adjustment. Point out that they will be able to sleep in one hour later in the morning and arrive to work more refreshed, for example.

Few people embrace change eagerly. But they will embrace it openly if the benefits are obvious.

Share with us your experiences or tips on how to embrace innovative thinking in the workplace!