The most innovative companies didn’t start in designer offices (but rather in poorly furnished dorm rooms, basements or garages)…

Innovation and disruption is on top of everyone’s agenda. We hear from every corner that if we want to have a future, we have to create it for ourselves and for our companies. We work on new innovation strategies, redesign the offices, let employees work at home or wherever they want to at their convenience, but too often it doesn’t really bring the return we thought it would.

All the millions spent in material things (furniture, design etc…) show a well-meant intention. Needless to say, we need a certain level of physiological/psychological comfort to be productive, but as some studies show, a direct correlation between office design and productivity remains highly disputable — let alone its effects on establishing an overall innovative mindset.

Where should we invest then to create an innovative culture?

Start here & be really honest when answering these questions:

1) Are YOU really living up to the innovative standards you’re asking for? You are your employees’ best role model, the embodiment of all things great (or not so great). To have an innovative culture, you have to live it and build it at every level of corporate life, strategy and vision, and not just use words but show it in every single action you take.

2) What is the most wide-spread mentality in the workplace? The more people work in your company the more different mindsets you’re likely to encounter. There is a huge array of attitudes between TGIF and the growth mindset that effects the work experience and the group dynamics. Are you aware of them?

3) Are you listening? “One sends all receive” kind of management no longer works. Everybody needs a slightly different fuel to get the creative juices flowing. Some need space, some need crowd; some need friends, some need a cause. How flexible do you weave your structures to accommodate these differences? To receive creativity from every corner, you will need to pay attention to gate keepers, bring down the barriers and do some fine tuning.

4) Are you really listening? People will be much more ready to share your cause, if they feel that you truly care about them. The easiest way to show someone that they matter is to listen to understand them (absolutely unfakable). Easy to say, harder to do: most people spend twice as much time talking than listening, what’s your quote?

5) How do you connect creativity and innovation? On an ideal day, the work should be 70% about creativity and 30% about administration, organization etc… (I know, I know, most of the time it is the opposite). But, if you want to foster innovation, you have to make room for creative explorations: go out of your comfort zone; look outside of your field for inspiration and; ask many questions that start with “what if?” & don’t forget to take your team with you.

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Read this on Medium.