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JUNE 2020 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 21 very broad hint. If you are the company that comes up with the fastest NPI time to mar- ket, then the name of your company might join those names that I mentioned at the start of this column, instead of the one standing there ruefully saying, "I should have thought of that." But here's the thing that always fascinates me when it comes to innovation in times of chaos: Why do we have to have chaos to be innovative? Why does it take a crisis for us to get out of our comfort zones and start thinking about things in a new and different way? Cer- tainly, it has been proven that not much gets done when things are going well. In James C. Collins' book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't, he talked about how difficult it was to get out of the "good" zone on your way to greatness. But there has to be a way. I find that most of the time, there is a reluc- tance—nay, a downright resistance—to change in all of us. I see this in some of the compa- nies I work with; people hate change, and peo- ple hate change-mongers more than they hate change. But if you hate change, you will never innovate because why should you? Things are fine as they are—or are they? Here are seven things you can do as a com- pany to encourage change and hence innova- tion: 1. Create a culture of innovation: Encour- age people to vent their idea freely. Most of the time, people with ideas will not mention them for fear of ridicule by the rest of the team. Get rid of that. 2. Allow people to take risks: This also means allowing people to screw up. Encourage mistakes. Most companies have their employees trembling with fear at the sheer thought of making mistakes when in actuality, none of us are making enough mistakes to be creative. 3. Push people to think big: Push people to make decisions based on wild and audacious ideas. Take the ceiling out of the room and let them shoot for the skies with their imagination. 4. Get rid of the rut: Break routines and shake things up. Let people use their own biorhythms to let their facility of imagination flow freely. Some people are morning thinkers, while others are late- day thinkers. Allow them to roam freely with their ideas. Stop constricting them. 5. Introduce people to new ideas: Get your team excited about an idea. The more pas- sionate your team is, the more innovative solutions they will come up with. 6. Be different: Be different in the Apple advertisement sense. Encourage those who act different, look different, and are different. These are the people to pay attention to when it comes to, forgive me, clearing the lemmings from your organization. 7. Can the naysayers: The naysayers are usually anti-risk people who have won for years by playing by the proverbial playbook. There is a good reason that Tom Peters once said he would take a creative person who graduates with a solid "C" average over the "knows how to play the system and never makes waves straight 'A' students." And finally, in the spirit of under-promising and over-delivering, be the true leader when it comes to innovation. The best way to do that is to be the chief encourager or "empow - erer" of your company, and if you have been smart enough to hire people smarter than you, you'll do fine. Your company might even start innovating without being in the middle of a chaotic crisis. SMT007 Editor's note: Parts of this article are from Dan Beaulieu's recent "It's Only Common Sense" column titled "I Should Have Thought of That." Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.

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