Dare to Be Different: 3 Ways to Open Your Mind to Innovative Thinking

13th Sep 2021
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Innovative or creative thinking is the driving force behind differentiation. Continuous creative thinking breeds continuous new ideas, new solutions to problems, and new ways to reach target markets. It’s a must for all businesses if they want to thrive in a crowded market.

But barriers such as fear, a lack of direction, and a poor company culture can often stem the flow of ground-breaking ideas and solutions that set businesses apart from the crowd.

So how do we open our minds to think creatively and allow a steady stream of innovative ideas and solutions to flow out?

Good question. Let’s find out…

Why creative thinking is needed in business

Creative thinking is a way of looking at problems from a fresh perspective with non-traditional solutions.” – Forbes

Innovative thinking is a thought process that allows companies to consistently generate new ideas and solutions that challenge the norm, change the status quo, and bolster the performance of the company. It involves stepping outside comfort zones, walking the path less travelled and thinking outside the box to uncover new ways to beat the competition, improve efficiency, or increase productivity.

Take Apple, Tesla, Amazon, Netflix, or Facebook for example. These global conglomerates are synonymous with innovation and all of them preach the benefits of continuous innovative thinking. 

But innovative thinking doesn’t always come naturally. There are common barriers to creative thinking that can come down and stop the flow of innovative ideas. And you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll come down during your hour of need: When the pressure to come up with a new, ground-breaking idea is weighing heavily on your shoulders.

So, what are these barriers to innovative thinking and how do we overcome them?

The 3 common barriers to innovative thinking & how to break through them

Imagination is a priceless asset that enables an organization to envision better, new and different outcomes.” – Regent

Companies need to foster imagination within their workforce if they want to inspire innovative thinking and constant creativity. But there are three barriers that can stunt the power of imagination leaving the company stale, stagnant and stuck in a rut.

Innovative thinking barrier #1: Fear of failure

The single biggest reason why most organisations and individuals do not achieve their full potential is fear of failure.” – Lucidity

Innovative thinking is a breeding ground for fear because innovation is all about stepping into the unfamiliar, blindfolded. It’s about trying new things, being brave enough to suggest alternatives, questioning the way things are done and pushing the boundaries without knowing the outcome. It, therefore, comes with unlimited risks and unknowns which makes us question ourselves: What if it doesn’t work? What if I’ve got it wrong? What if I make a mistake? What if we lose money? 

Whether it’s been at work or in our personal lives, we’ve all experienced this type of crippling fear. It stops us in our tracks and prevents us from moving forwards with new ideas.

But it’s not the actual failure that prevents us from taking action. After all, we’ve all faced some sort of failure and got through it, right? It’s the anticipation of failure that stops us. It’s the anticipation of getting something wrong, making a mistake, losing money or wasting time that paralyses us, stops our imagination and prevents us from taking action.

How do we break through the fear of failure barrier?
The trick to overcoming the fear of failure is to see failure as a good, positive thing. We often learn, progress and develop from making mistakes. After all, we have to be bad at something to be able to get good at it.

So, encourage yourself and your staff to embrace failure and start to see it as a help rather than a hindrance. Change the focus from “What if it all goes wrong” to “What’s the WORST that could happen if it did go wrong?” 

If you and your employees are constantly trying new things, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes, you’ll start to normalise failure so it no longer prevents you from thinking outside the box.

Accept that you will have to make some mistakes and have failed in order to get to the end. Mistakes often lead to successes, to trust in the creative process and don’t be scared to try.” – Cogs

Innovative thinking barrier #2: Lack of direction

Creative thinking starts from the top and filters its way down through the entire workforce. If senior management encourages creative thinking by prioritising it and giving their employees time to practice it, it will start to infiltrate into internal processes and internal procedures, naturally. Creative thinking will then become second nature and part of employees’ everyday decisions, tasks and actions.

But without clear direction, focus, or support for creative thinking, this won’t happen.

Employees need to understand exactly what the company wants, what direction it’s heading in and what the key objectives are. Once they have this clear sense of direction and are supported and encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, the creativity will flow.

So many ideas slowly die in organisations as they don’t have a structure or processes for taking ideas forward.” – Lucidity

How do we break through the lack of direction barrier? 
Apple clears its employees' schedules to hold regular brainstorming sessions where they’re encouraged to ‘leave their hang-ups at the door and go crazy’ with new ideas and approaches to problems and products. Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time developing new innovative ideas, and Amazon empowers every employee to be innovative by allowing them to pursue their ideas in a safe, blame-free environment where failure is embraced.

These top innovative companies are leading by example. They’re showing their employees that innovation and creative thinking are a priority. This gives their employees free rein to think creatively without restraint.

Innovative thinking barrier #3: Fear of change

Change is necessary if you want to grow, develop and become a market leader. As the saying goes: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

But many companies rely too much on old ideas and established ways of thinking. Homeostasis like this leads companies into a comfort zone, which quickly turns into a rut that they get stuck in: Creative thinking goes out the window, innovative ideas are put into the ‘too hard’ basket, and the company trundles along as it’s always done.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.” – Entrepreneur

Sometimes this is because it’s easier to continue with the status quo rather than upset the applecart with change, but more often than not, it’s because companies fear change. Change is scary and filled with unknowns that carry a lot of financial risks. Similar to the fear of failure, there’s a worry that change might bring about financial problems.

How to break through the fear of change barrier

To overcome the financial worries that prevent companies from investing in innovative thinking and embracing the changes that come with it, they should take advantage of available funding opportunities. Funding opportunities such as the R&D tax credit scheme, for example.

This government-funded scheme allows organisations to claim up to 33% of the costs associated with the research and development of their new, innovative ideas. This means they can invest time, money and resources into developing new solutions, products, products or services without the financial strain that these changes could bring.

It takes the risk out of doing something different.

To find out more about the R&D tax credit scheme, contact Myriad Associates on 0207 118 6045, or drop them a message. Myriad Associates are a leading R&D tax specialist firm who have been filing R&D tax credit claims for over a decade. Because their niche is R&D tax, they often work with accountants to either support their own R&D projects or to help them file R&D claims on behalf of their clients.