Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider
There’s one big mistake companies are making every day, and it has major implications, says Tina Seelig, executive director of Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program and author of inGenius: A Crash Course On Creativity.They aren’t encouraging employees to ask the right questions.
Instead of looking at new ways of doing things, people continually resort to old and familiar thinking — because it’s seemingly the most efficient way of doing things. But over time, it has a detrimental effect on innovation and productivity.
“We can spend all day on email and doing incremental things,” she told us. “Instead, people should go to work thinking, ‘What’s the problem I’m going to solve today?’ I hesitate to say, for example, that email is a problem. It’s more a state of mind, that I can be doing things in a creative way. How do I handle the influx of all the queries I get? And how might I handle them in a more respectful and efficient way? What response will have the most impact?”
Being able to think in a different way starts with what type of environment you work in. “When you walk into Google or Pixar, you know that you’re encouraged to be creative,” says Seelig, who just gave a big presentation at Google earlier this week about creativity. “If you walk into an office that’s sterile with cubicles, that sends a message about what sort of expectations there are in that office.” You know you’re in a creative environment if you don’t get “punished” for taking risks.
Another big problem in Corporate America, she says, is that “people feel as though they have to spend so much time packaging a project, so it’s finished when they show their boss. But it might not be right. And people are a lot less likely to criticise a finished project. If you have the courage to show people things that are incomplete and raw, you’ll be able to correct mistakes much faster. And that all goes back to what sort of work environment you’re in.”
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