Disciplined Innovation

How creative is your company? A 2010 study of 1,500 CEO’s indicated that leaders rank creativity as the No. 1 leadership attribute needed for prosperity. It’s the one thing that can’t be outsourced; the one thing that’s the lifeblood of sustainable competitive advantage. Hyper-growth companies such as Zappos, Groupon, and Uber credit a culture of innovation as their primary driver of success. They take a deliberate approach to fostering creativity at all levels of their organizations, and deploy creative thinking to attack problems big and small. (Inc)

Check out these 7 ways to breed creativity

1. Question

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

Breed a culture of asking “Why”? “Why” does your organization exist? “Why” do you do it this way? Create a “What if…” board in your workplace, where employees can pose outrageous “What if” questions.

2. Purpose

“Creativity dies in an undisciplined environment.” – James C. Collins

Every task must have a clear purpose and expected outcome. Purpose magnetizes passion throughout the workplace.  Steve Jobs purpose was to put a computer in every home. Your specific purpose must be your own, but the bigger and more important your purpose is, the more passion it has the potential to create within your team. Passion breeds creativity.

3. Empower

“Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”  – Steve Maroboli

According to a 2008 study by Harvard University, there is a direct correlation between people who are empowered to make their own decisions, and their creative output. An employee who has to run every detail by for approval will quickly become numb to the creative process.

4. Expression

“Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation.” – Edward Abbey

Creativity is self-expression. Imagine a typical manager hovering over Picasso, barking orders, tapping his watch, questioning the return on investment, and demanding a full report on why he chose a certain brushstroke technique. Picasso’s creativity would shrivel.

5. Fearless

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin H. Lane

From Benjamin Franklin to Henry Ford nearly every breakthrough innovation in history came after countless setbacks, mistakes, and failures. The great innovators and achievers weren’t necessarily smarter or inherently more talented. They simply released their fear of failure and kept trying. They didn’t let setbacks or misfires extinguish their curiosity and imagination. Employees should not fear sharing their thoughts. Embrace their ideas and the idea process. It should be accepted to say what you think, even if it is controversial. “We tried that; it doesn’t work” is not an acceptable response to brainstorming sessions.

6. Act Small

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” – Peter F. Drucker

Smaller companies tend to be more curious and growth oriented. They have a stronger sense of urgency and are not afraid to embrace change.  In contrast, larger organizations often exist to protect previous ideas rather than to create new ones.

7. Nurse

“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” – Thomas Edison

Innovation often starts with one idea and comes to life being something completely different. Create mediums to nurse ideas to life through the input of the team. Start an idea whiteboard and collaborate.

Here are some great links on innovation:




Ryan Rao is a Principal of Apex Franchise Development Group and is a franchise development expert who has grown multiple franchise based businesses into national and international brands. Franchising has allowed him to help individuals realize their dreams of business ownership, while permitting them to experience the independence, flexibility, and freedom that comes with being a business owner. He also serves as a franchise consultant, and is a personal growth advocate.

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