It’s January and you’ve definitely had enough of tinsel, baked ham and end of year parties for one year. You’re back at the office, it’s quiet, the staff that aren’t on holiday are a little subdued and you’ve noticed one or two people (ok at least 10) sneakily looking at job websites. Lack of motivation, post-celebration fatigue and low-productivity are all common side-effects of Christmas and New Year, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as the status quo. In fact, making positive steps in January can give you the edge over your competition. (Who by the way, are probably more focussed on stocktaking the stationary cupboard.)
You can get a jump start on the year and set the tone for your workplace with these 3 innovation hacks.
1. Trend Hack
If the team are low on energy and busy scanning the net, why not make the most of it. Get them doing research into trends, new technologies, materials, software, competitors, complementary industries etc. Rather than condemning the use of Facebook and Twitter try actively encouraging your team to follow relevant trade bodies, competitors and spokespeople on social media, and set up a system for documenting and mapping this information.
An excellent way to do this is to start by listing the trends that you want researching and then create Trend boards, which staff can add their findings to. We encourage clients to split the board into opportunities and threats - but be careful here, as threats are often opportunities in disguise!
Above all else, make sure that the team are not just scrapbooking any old content. It needs to relate to your purpose. You’re unlikely to need to know about robots that can cook if you’re an accountancy firm, but you should definitely be looking at relevant examples of robotics used for professional services.
The most innovative organisations run these sorts of activities throughout the year and throughout every department, so once you’ve started, keep it going all year. This type of stimulus will help you run successful ideation sessions and implement a continuous program of innovation.
2. The Procrastination Brain Hack
Accepting the ‘go slow’ of the January schedule doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Active procrastination is a common tactic used by ‘creatives’ who are sometimes mistaken as being easily distracted. So rather than getting stressed about the problems that aren’t getting solved, just identify the areas for improvement and relax a little. Use this breathing space (with some help from the stimulus you’ve gathered above) to give the brain time to subconsciously work on the issues. Often it is only when you revisit the issues after a break that you realise you have some clever ideas or the ideation process feels easier. This procrastination time has allowed the brain to make new connections and link ideas, thus tapping into your natural powers of creative thinking.
Identifying and labelling the mistakes and areas for improvement of the past is also a common brain hackfor ‘carrying on’. MRI studies have shown that our brains aren't bothered so much by the failures when we acknowledge negative emotional experiences. Hence this process can also result in decreased stress, which in turn improves focus, planning and problem solving.
3. The Lone Wolf Hack
A common gripe for innovation directors and departments is the feeling that when it comes to innovation they are on their own. This is particularly valid when there are an abundance of standard operating procedures, checklists, rules and ‘red tape’ for everything, or a management hierarchy which stifles change. This kind of soul sapping bureaucratic culture may have been feeding on people’s motivation and optimism for years, and it can be the killjoy to new ideas and innovation.
But fear not! The attitude and positive actions of one person or department can be infectious, even if the changes you make appear to be small or insignificant at the start.
One of the most powerful outcomes of the lone wolf is in impacting the culture of an organisation, and often the easiest way to do this is through enjoyment. This can take shape in creative ways - from silliness with office competition (e.g. in 2016 Post-it note art on office windows erupted in New York and quickly spread to other major cities around the world) or just by simply being transparent with colleagues. Sharing ideas rather than keeping them contained to a silent few, will not only invoke trust, but it will also provide useful feedback. We also find it encourages everyone to share their ideas for the greater good.
So rather than trudge through January, try out one or two of these hacks and start the year with the right foot forward.
And if by doing this, you realise that you need a little help along your innovation journey and would like to know more about our programs, then please fill in the form below: