6 ways to embrace innovative thinking

By Robert Half on 13th September 2015

Is the company you work for progressive and forward-looking? Businesses in the UK tend to rate themselves in the mid-table of the innovation scale in a recent IT insights report, which suggests many might be missing out on opportunities to grow and develop.

Businesses value employees who are able to increase efficiencies and produce innovative solutions. This means being an employee who can be an innovative thinker to produce creative ideas and help problem solve. It positions you as an innovator, someone who is striving to constantly add value to the business, and ultimately, it helps build a strong case for your career advancement. 

To do this, start including these 6 processes into your everyday work to help you adopt an innovative thinking approach: 

1. Take note of hurdles

We all have our annoyances at work and processes that we'd like to change, yet we often don’t do anything about it. But there's no better starting point to being an innovative thinker, someone who produces creative ideas and  business solutions than simply asking yourself what frustrates you the most. Once you understand what problem you want to solve or what specific outcome you wish to achieve, you'll be in a good position to focus your mind on devising a strong solution.

2. Think about your customer

Are there processes that could be streamlined for customers and internal clients? Speaking to these people can highlight processes or ideas that you hadn’t considered previously. Feedback from these individuals can offer a great springboard for innovation and solving problems that you might not have been aware of, so tap into these sources of information to help identify ideas and potential business opportunities to help you become an innovative thinker.

3. Two heads are better than one

Creative and worthwhile suggestions often emerge when ideas are being batted back and forth. Join in meetings and brainstorming sessions that are being held at your company or with your colleagues. This is a good opportunity to gain a new perspective and learn how to become an innovative thinker. You might hit upon an idea or problem you hadn't previously thought of and from there develop a strong proposal with the help of your colleagues. 

4. Broaden your scope

Read industry publications, it's often worthwhile to see how other sectors operate. So don't limit the content you consume - both online and offline - to material directly related to what you do. By gaining an insight into best practices in other industries and competitors, you can start looking at adapting and applying processes that could work well in your organisation. 

5. The little things count

While everyone wants to produce creative ideas that are large and game-changing, innovative thinking doesn't have to be on a grand scale. Strong ideas concerning even the smallest processes of a business can make a big difference to overall performance and help exploit gaps that rival firms are failing to tap into. It also positions you to your employer as an essential employee who is an innovative thinker, constantly adding value to the business, and supporting you drive for career advancement.

6. Teach an old dog new tricks

Businesses can often get stuck into a certain way of doing things and even when members of staff want changes to happen, it can take time. Think of processes from previous jobs you have worked on, or if your work has interim professionals tap into their way of thinking and tackling projects differently, take note of this as it will help you adopt an innovative thinking mindset. Perhaps they know of a transferable process that hasn’t been considered where you work, but could help improve areas of the business. 

By building these ideas into your everyday work you will improve your ability to identify areas of innovation and solve problems for your business. Having an creative mindset and trying to be an innovative thinker shows you have an outward looking view towards the organisation and your own immediate job. And of course, a strong track record of innovation will help in your career advancement and make you attractive to future employers.

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