Jason Dunning, Principal Consultant, DWF Consulting, @JDunningChange
It is all too easy for leaders to fall in to the trap of inadvertently hindering creative thinking. Whether that is so, boils down to how a particular organisation is set up to cope with and measure innovation.
For example, an employee can be fantastically knowledgeable and enthusiastic about new concepts and technologies, but if senior management implement dogmatic targets or output requirements, then unconscious bias will sadly play a part in curtailing that particular employee's approach to any given situation.
Now, that isn't to say that these leaders shouldn't get involved in the change process – it's their job to drive the organisation forward – but herein lies the difficulty.
Leaders must create the right environment for change to really thrive and this is often at odds with their requirement for tangible outputs. The true necessities for creative innovation – playfulness, learning and "thinking outside of the box" – are often brushed aside in favour of an ingrained and outmoded pattern of 'problem solving' and a focus on output. This approach massively stifles creativity and ultimately hinders the innovation process.
In order to think freely and creatively, the leaders of organisations need to break free from the shackles of convention and take a new approach to tackling issues. They should start focusing on understanding the problem, learn fast from failures, get to grips with the art of serious playfulness and try new techniques to foster different concepts and ideas.
It's incredibly tough for an organisation to change its spots for stripes but creating an environment that is not based on bottom line savings or scores, but one that nurtures the potential and untested, will ultimately foster real change. If you're ever going to break with tradition and convention, first you need to break with tradition and convention.