What I like about the following article, is this is something to consider during your Value Stream Mapping workshops. One of the constant feed-back comments we receive from employees after a participating in a EVSM Workshop is that they have never taken the time to observe the waste they experience every day in the work-place. Conducting a EVSM forces you to sit back to observe, reflect and generate ideas to enhance a process, instead of focusing on getting your 100 tons of coal out each day. Think about it …
Give yourself and your employee’s time to think of ideas. While it can seem that there is never enough time to get everything done and deadlines are always looming, you can't afford not to take the time to come up with new ideas. Allow even just a few minutes every day to discover what your customers or employees are thinking and what problems or frustrations they may be experiencing. Ask your employees what they are working on, where there may be problems, and what ideas they have for solving them.
Positively reinforce ideas—avoid the automatic no. As discussed earlier don't rush to judge ideas. It's the process of coming up with ideas that need to be reinforced, not whether the idea is good or not. Evaluation can come later.
Look to unlikely sources of opportunities. You never know where creativity an innovation will emerge. Think beyond your age group, socioeconomic status, and education.
Get a room with a view. Give your employees—and yourself—varied experiences. Get away from the office, go visit customers, allow employees to learn one another's jobs, and so on. It enables people to get a different perspective, and it is when we can change our routine that break-through ideas often can be discovered.
Remember what got you initially to the dance floor. Ultimately your product or service must not only fulfill a need but also provide it with a perceived value. If it is selling then you have satisfied that initial criteria but so often companies attempt to out think their customers so it pays to get grounded occasionally before instigating progress. Hence why we love to have a large diagram capturing the Voice of the Customer (VOC), usually created through the use of CT Trees (Critical To). It does help to create alignment within the organization and are we still satisfying our organizations aspirations and beliefs.
reflect, Reflect, REFLECT ... such a simple task but so often overlooked. It should only take a couple of minutes and you should make it a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly habit. Through Reflection what are your current processes and deliverables doing well? This ties back to your VOC in providing a valued solution. You should always take time to reflect on WWW (What is Working Well), WNWW (What is not Working Well), and of course WDD (What to Do Different). Opportunities identified through WNWW and WDD should become active Action Items for improvement.
An innovative company does not automatically develop out of an innovative business idea. You have to deliberately set your expectations and communicate them to your employees. Remember that recognition is fuel—it fans the fires of creativity and helps your business reach potentials that you may never have anticipated.
Einstein said, "Creativity is contagious... pass it on."
As the business owner, you are in a unique position to make sure that people's brains don't stop at your company's door. .