When searching for innovative solutions sometimes you need to take away the context and just look at the problem. The solution for what a pulp mill is struggling with may already be in place in a hospital or on an oil well site. That’s why diversity is important. If we all have similar backgrounds and experiences chances are we have similar ideas as well. As I referred to in last month’s article Helping People See, the adult brain operates by calling on what it has seen before. Unless we shake that up we aren’t going to get much innovation.
An innovative culture doesn’t just happen it is something you work towards. It comes from respecting everyone’s opinion from that new employee who worked in an entirely different industry to that old employee that has an interesting hobby after hours. It’s learning from people that you know have a wealth of experience and giving them some tools so they can share their knowledge with others. It’s providing a comfortable inclusive environment for women and immigrants because they bring a different perspective to the work and that different perspective is important in innovation.
While people are the most important key to innovation it’s in their diversity that their innovative strength lies. If your environment respects and supports diversity those innovative solutions may come easier than you thought.