When we write of intrapreneurship, we are addressing the need for businesses to foster innovation. While process and procedure can create a friendly environment in which creativity can occur, there are times when some individuals inside an organization need a jump start. How does an organization encourage its people to overcome what would be called in literary circles “writer’s block?” For, if your company can identify how to unleash the power within the minds of its employees, great things can happen on behalf of the customer and the company and its stakeholders–including the employees!
Woody Bendle penned an article for Innovation Excellence recently highlighting that innovation instincts can be sharpened and expanded. It is necessary, according to Bendle, to “sharpen your instincts.” Bendle reminds readers of Malcolm Gladwell’s writings (Blink and Outliers) on how to become more intuitive. Gladwell, says Bendle, “provides several deliciously compelling examples of the human “Adaptive Unconscious” at work. This Adaptive Unconsciousness is discussed as one’s ability to intuitively connect a myriad of seemingly disparate dots in a split second in order to form an accurate expert opinion. And, fortunately this Adaptive Unconsciousness is something that one can develop over time.”
Furthermore, writes Bendle, Gladwell makes the case for developing “expert” knowledge and abilities through what he calls “The 10,000 Hour Rule:”
Gladwell’s thesis is that after 10,000 hours immersed in a particular field or activity, one begins to have a seemingly innate level of knowledge or capability. Put another way, with 10,000 hours of effort you can take your Adaptive Unconsciousness (instincts and intuition) to a new, almost uncanny level. But at this point, one’s expertise is potentially narrow, and one way to bring even more value to your innovation process is to expand your instinctive base.
Bendle suggest the following 6 techniques to awaken your latent innovative capability:
- Occasionally take yourself out of your daily, weekly and monthly routines. You’ll be amazed by what doing something different or doing something differently can do for your mind.
- Purposefully seek out the new and the different – and pay attention. There is a whole lot of life going on out there and to borrow a quote from Ferris Bueller – “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
- Go Wander and Wonder. Go see, do, and experience something completely out of your wheel-house. Get out of your comfort zone and whet your appetite for confusion. Seek out things that are amazing to you.
- Challenge your senses. Take a moment every now and then to mentally catalogue what your senses are experiencing and then, maybe even push them a little further.
- Make note of things that inspire. Each of us are moved in different ways. Pay attention when you are inspired. Ask yourself why you were inspired. Make note of what this feeling is inspiring in you.
- Play! Have you ever spent any time watching two young animals playing around or rough-housing? They are developing their instincts and this is one technique that we human simply don’t do often enough.
Try these techniques the next time that you are trying to solve a tough problem at work. See if they propel your thinking toward greater objectivity and clarity. If you find that the techniques are working for you, take it to the next level by sharing your experience with co-workers, a supervisor, or subordinate. As more people learn to think about the everyday work world with more innovative mindsets, “breakthroughs” should become far more common and frustrating “Catch-22” situations less so!