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Manufacturing Tomorrow

Manufacturing Tomorrow


What Kind Of Environments Breed Innovative Thinking?

Jul 26, 2016
By: Mark Stevens

Breaking down the barriers that constrain thought is crucial to facilitating creativity and finding innovative solutions in the workplace.

To foster innovative ideas, it's important to provide everyone with freedom of thought with no regard to time, money or resources. If you're constrained by any of those three resources, you'll always end up with a constrained solution. While you'll eventually need to conduct an analysis with time, money and resources in mind, the key is to never start with them.

Here are three tips to promote innovative thinking within your organization:
1.Get out of your everyday work environment. If you have a formal workplace, for example, consider brainstorming ideas at an "innovation pit" that's completely unlike the office. Some companies choose resorts, while others head outdoors. In order for everyone's minds to think out of context, their bodies must be outside of their regular environment.
2.Define the end goal: People are frequently too focused on what they perceive to be the problem at hand and lose sight of what's really important, according to an article on the BizTimes website. The article quotes John Caruso, an associate professor of industrial design at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Caruso, an advocate of the design-thinking process, says companies often try "to solve the small micro issues of the product, the object, the product line. And when you bring in design thinking and start looking at things from a holistic point of view, you've got to step back and say, 'Well, what's the problem you're trying to solve?'"

As the interview in the article highlights, too often people jump to what they believe are the solutions without truly understanding what the objective is. Never lose sight of the end goal. At the same time, make sure there's a process for innovation. Discussions about innovation naturally tend to be unstructured, but the conversations should always flow back to the primary objective.
3.Create a diverse innovation group. Think carefully about how you choose to populate the room when having creative sessions. You need people with different perspectives and experience as it relates to what you're trying to solve.

The key to breaking new ground is to break out of the everyday restraints and limitations we place on ourselves. You can't think outside the box if you don't tear down the walls every once in a while and take a look around at what's out there.


Mark Stevens
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