7 Steps for Becoming More Innovative at Work
Updated July 21, 2022
Innovative technology, business ideas and social solutions shape the world we live in. Every new idea there has been has come from a creative individual or team of innovators. If you're inspired by new and original designs and concepts, then you may be wondering how to become more innovative. In this article, we explain what it means to innovate at work and describe seven steps to take to develop your professional creativity and problem-solving skills.
What does being innovative at work mean?
Innovation refers to the development of new ideas or the improvement of existing ideas. Being innovative at work means that you contribute ideas and solutions to workplace challenges or problems. Innovators recognize when there's a need for improvement, and they use logic, reason and creativity to come up with ways to meet those needs. They often structure systems, collaborate and build tools or products that add value to their environment or culture. They may work to improve productivity, increase revenue or develop collaboration—and the effects are often memorable and impact change.
Related: What Is the Innovative Process?
Benefits of innovative thinking
Here are four ways that innovative thinking benefits people and improves the workplace:
Being an innovative thinker requires people to be proactive in their careers. People with this quality are excited by challenges, and they seek solutions instead of focusing on problems. Having a positive attitude and maintaining proactive habits helps people to be more engaged at work, which is likely to increase their productivity and motivation.
Contributes to your personal brand
Working to become an innovator in your job place adds to your professional persona and brand. Your personal brand is an expression of your overall workplace strengths and abilities in combination with your professional attitude and demeanor. Developing a memorable and consistent personal brand is a powerful tool for networking and career development.
Brainstorming ideas and having confidence in your problem-solving skills play significant roles in having success as an innovator in your career. Speaking with your superiors or colleagues about your ideas often sparks incitement or creativity in other people. It's likely to lead to in-depth conversations, professional partnerships and collaborative efforts on projects or initiatives. Also, when problem-solving and innovative thinking become a part of your personal brand, people are more likely to come to you for help or advice when they are assigned creative projects or assignments.
Increases professional recognition
Thinking creatively at work and seeking out innovative solutions for workplace challenges—not only helps people develop their personal brand—but it also helps define a person's professional reputation. Resolving problems using strategy and creativity and maintaining a proactive and positive mindset is likely to help you gain recognition from your peers and superiors as a skilled and inventive person, It may even improve your professional standing or help you be considered for a promotion or leadership position.
How to be innovative at work in 7 steps
Here are seven steps to take to become more innovative in your career:
1. Be open to change
The first step in becoming innovative in your career is to develop a mindset that is open to change. Innovation involves coming up with new ideas or new systems for completing tasks. Being overly connected to the way things are done presently may limit your creativity. You can practice being open to change by participating in newly implemented processes or by attending a new work event or professional outing. You can also improve your mindset by telling yourself that change is good and that you can adjust to new circumstances.
2. Seek out positivity
After developing an open mindset, you should work to establish a sense of positivity in your personal and professional life. Having a positive outlook allows you to maintain your openness to change, and it can help you be more confident about your ideas or decisions.
This outlook can also help you be more receptive to budding ideas that your colleagues or co-workers may have, and is likely to encourage collaboration and team brainstorming. You can find this positivity internally and externally by connecting with colleagues or a mentor who has a cheerful or hopeful disposition, and making positive affirmations at the start of each day.
3. Study other innovative thinkers
The next step in learning how to think like an innovator is to study the lives and work of innovative thinkers. Make a list of five to 10 influential people who inspire you. Think of people who have designed tools or systems that make your life easier, or inventions that change the way people live.
You can read biographies and autobiographies or watch documentaries to learn about how each of those people lived their lives. You may find inspiration, behaviors or character traits to emulate or information about how influential innovators face challenges in their careers or lives.
4. Attend a workshop
An innovation workshop is a dedicated learning and professional development session. They can range from hours long to days long and facilitate creative growth and encourage innovative thinking. Many employers, schools and private organizations offer these types of training sessions and workshops, and attendees often use these events to gain exposure to new ideas, brainstorming strategies, technological advances and like-minded professionals.
5. Broaden your professional network
Your professional network is a group of social and work-related contacts who you can reach out to concerning jobs, industry questions, learning opportunities or advice. You can broaden your professional network by using social media, attending workshops or events, enrolling in classes or educational programs and connecting with coworkers are colleagues.
Expanding your professional network can provide you with access to new ideas, innovative technology and activities or programs to expand your creativity, positivity innovation in the workplace.
6. Bring your skills to the office
After committing to a positive and open mindset, connecting with like-minded professionals and studying the work and behavior of influential innovators, it's time to bring the skills and ideas you have picked up to your office or workplace. Consider hosting a brainstorming session or reaching out to your boss or colleagues about developing a cohort or team to address and solve workplace problems.
7. Have confidence in your ideas
The final step in being more Innovative at work is to develop confidence in your ideas. Emulate the characteristics and traits of innovative thinkers that you learned during your research, and brainstorm ideas for change. If you notice room for improvement, reach out to the appropriate person and let them know how you feel. If you believe you have a good idea, express your thoughts and take action to make a positive change.
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