Few will deny that they have enjoyed work more when fun is found somewhere in its process. And many admit to being more productive when creative design is part of what they do. In fact, the same brain circulits stimulated during play - are also activated and strengthened during highly successful innovative initiatives. So why then, do long faces tend to trump joyous moments at work?
In spite of the compelling case for flat out fun at work, business organizations have been slow to build cultures where play fosters innovation across diverse arenas. Innovation loses when senior managers remain locked in the past, in ways that rob the enjoyment innovators typically bring to their work. It doesn't have to be that way.
Imagine the pleasure and adventure of an enterprising organization where workers were encouraged to “ride the curve of the arc” at the dream stages, and then contribute a “theory of relativity” as an outcome. Does that portrait help to lay out the purpose and possibilities behind, this Hack? Einstein wrote and innovators affirm: Games are the most elevated forms of investigation.
It's with a thirst for discovery, investigation and sustainable progress, that I have incorporated the Celebration of Innovation into MITA Brain Based Leadership Certifications, with good success in several organizations, and in a few countries. This Hack, however, is its initial proposal for regular workplace inclusion later this month - when I propose this idea at the invitation of Wegmans - an award winning food chain.
With help from innovative suggestions, such as this innovation community, it could infuse novel opportunities for innovative solutions that shape cutting edge talent development, and advance pioneer inventions. It could also transform ordinary workplace cultures, into innovation labs where talents become tools to invent a new work order for higher dividends.
With that in mind, I gladly invite your suggestions for additions to my proposal, welcome ideas to fill in gaps, and look forward to improved incentives that would help to trigger high performance minds within a newly minted and flexible work culture!
- Dull workplaces obstruct innovation and discourage mistake making: About 70 % of workers claim dislike their workplace, and few businesses are tackling ways to fix toxic workplaces. Sadly, since brains default to ruts and routines, we keep broken systems alive, and workers gain a sense a false security by staying on.
- Workers who differ from mainstream ideas often feel undervalued. Little innovation fuels the workplace where workers of all backgrounds and talents are ignored, or taken for granted. Where process is regimented, and people controlled, top talents get neglected.
- Play’s often strikingly absent within toxic workplaces, and invention opportunities seem rare. While we know from neuro discoveries how well play interfaces with work, the concept has yet to catch on in mainstream business arenas.
- Risk-taking as a regular practice rarely stands a chance in traditional business settings. Rewards are often restricted for workers who control the range of ideas or practices with money, and are less offered as incentives for talented people to develop and contribute innovative ideas. So the traditional workplace lacks incentive to design inventions with brilliance that takes risks.
- Play is not often showcased for its innovative wonder at work. In times of recession we see more and more demands to make money, through controlled and rigid processes, that leaders seem to think guard against monetary loss and hold onto productivity to wait out storms.
- Poor tone creates an unsafe setting for people to share their innovations or risk seeking other's suggestions, because they fear attacks or reprisals for new or unique iniatives. People who wield poor tone often admit they cannot seem to overcome the brain’s default for ruts that foster poor tone or causes conflicts.
Host a Celebration of Innovation where staff will showcase innovative projects and insights similar to tradeshows. An innovation team of facilitators will direct the institution of this celebration and will track progress and ensure multiple talents are developed, shared and leveraged into profitability. The Celebration of Innovation will be premised on newly discovered neuro facts about innovation’s proclivity – as a natural segue to challenge growth at work. As a departure from traditional business settings with controled or rigid practices, open-minded growth settings would develop. Through incentives connected to the Celebration of Innovation ordinary workers with curious brains, would develop the kind of initiatives one admires from high performance minds. The result? The emergence of innovative leadership bent toward helping to facilitate a new world order, where innovation is central.
Specific solutions to current innovation barriers, include:
- Celebration will foster innovation incentives for teams to risk making mistakes necessary for excellence and growth. Trust - the workplace trait most workers request, will be woven into celebrations as people will contribute ideas and feedback to build together on the best concepts. The innovation celebration will publish tone guidelines to value diverse talents both individually and collectively.
- Innovation exemplars will draw from diverse backgrounds, talents and fields Incentives, such as publication of ideas, invitations to business experts in the field, and positive tone guidelines will be given for practical ways to value colleagues’ work. Criteria will be transparent so that top talents really get to the top. Like Pixar there will be a series of Q&A, interactive exchange of ideas to improve, and a trade show aspect to draw from the wider business community.
- Play fills a central and daily role within workplaces where invention opportunities lead to celebration of innovation that changes the culture of the organization. Using neuro discoveries to support how play interfaces with work, the concept takes risks in business arenas with evidence of discovery along the way. Digital games will be encouraged to engage new problem-solving skills at work. Staff from the entire organization will be hosted to enjoy (and build new neuron pathways toward play’s role in creative design at that workplace) so the journey of learning will extend beyond one’s comfort zones at work.
- Risk-taking will be tracked and rewarded as innovations grow into excellence. Rewards are often restricted for workers who control with money, and are less offered as incentives for talented people to develop and contribute innovative ideas. So the traditional workplace lacks incentive to design inventions with brilliance that takes risks. Research shows how risk-taking relates to the brain’s dopamine levels and defies logic. Rather than stifle risks, the celebration would be designed to support highly intelligent risk-takers from multiple and integrated areas of the arts and sciences, with evidence of defensible results shared at each project's conclusion.
- Play will be showcased for its innovative wonder in staff development sessions, and staff development tools will be created and shaped together. The Celebration of Innovation will change the workplace culture with a series of leadership strategies designed by talented teams in the firm. In times of recession and times of profitability, money making will be connected to innovative growth, feedbacks, problem solving sessions and retreats that examine mistakes to build stepping stones forward. Facilitators will be hired to ensure the processes remains open and that evaluations are intelligence-fair. Through the regular Celebration of Innovation, productivity will no longer wait out storms, but innovative advances will be expected to lead the organization from recessions to upturns.
- Great ideas and intelligent designs sail forward when people use good tone skills to disagree while at the same time build goodwill for the innovation team. As people cultivate strong tone skills, others will be supported to overcome the brain’s default for ruts and cultive tools to win in spite of conflicts. Leaders who help to create tone for an innovative world order forward, foster teams that move from poor tone to brainpower for innovation. Through good tone, in collaborative groups, genius talents will rise to the top from many angles of novel initiatives.
Steps to Implementation:
Steps into Implementation of Celebration of Innovation
1 – Hire several innovation facilitators (depending on size of organization) who value civility, understand the company mission, and possess talents to inspire widespread collaboration at every level.
2 – Begin with motivational staff session (or online video) to show how novelty stokes memory and kickstarts brainpower. (See http://xrl.us/bhxswi ).
3 – Identify key rut or inefficient areas within current routines to show how the human brain comes with a default to ruts (See http://xrl.us/bhxsw5 )
4 - Invite one volunteer and a voted- in representative from each department to help design the Celebration of Innovation pilot launch.
5 – Implement the smaller Celebration of Innovation initially, as a way to involve more innovation from more participants. Using business-wide feedback (much like we invite to ideas raised here at this innovation site) then grow the concept into an ongoing semi-annual event across the entire business.
6 – Pause to reflect with staff after each Celebration event to ensure that staff is engaged in action-generated-triggers for ongoing growth, by asking, Where to from here…?
Influences on this concept that I have developed.
- The Brain Based Manifesto for Renewal – with 17 research theories about innovative growth, with the brain in mind - is found at http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/change/mita-brain-manifesto/
- Brain Facts used in Celebration of Innovation to ensure progress for excellence are listed at http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/change/25-ways-to-reboot-brainpower-increase-innovation/
- Smart Skills for renewal here – suggested for change that integrates hard and soft skills for building tools to solve problems in a new era – found at http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/2-footed-question/reflect-change-with-smart-skills/
- The brilliant ideas from colleagues and change agents across fields – are still waiting in the pike – and I look forward to learning here from suggestions offered when this proposal is made to executives shortly.