4 Ways to support Innovative Thinking

4 Ways to support Innovative Thinking

How innovative are you? “Not very” did I hear you reply? Many of us work in places where innovation is not really encouraged and yet studies have confirmed that all businesses want to be more innovative. One survey identified that almost 90 per cent of businesses believe that innovation (the development of new ideas leading to the creation of a new product, process or service) is a priority for them.

So to those of you that think you are not very innovative, have you ever noticed that once you take the pressure off, how many ideas come forth when you finally decide to “stop thinking about this”? I am often told that this “just came to me” while I was having a shower, walking the dog, playing with my kids etc etc. When we give our brains some space and take time to just “be” that can be when the magic happens. So how can we create more opportunities for insights and “aha” moments to show up in the 4MAT learning experiences we create?

  1. Get a conversation going. Unhurried dialogue about the big and small are often a trigger for some of the best insights. Build time into your training to really allow learners to get into dialogue. Trust the process — ask THE right question and let it do the heavy lifting. Spend time crafting powerful questions that will stimulate the thinking of the group. Restrain your own need to talk or to keep the content moving.
  2. Reflect. Why do our best ideas come in the shower? For the brain alpha waves to get rolling, we need to relax and to stop thinking about the problem we are trying to solve. Individual reflection, journaling, a walk in nature or a switching of gears are all ways to encourage the arrival of a new idea. My most favourite strategy for this is to send participants outside the training venue on a walk and talk for twenty minutes or so. They always come back saying that something important came together for them while doing this. If you can’t get outside of four walls, think about pre- and post-learning reflection exercises which stimulate the brain.
  3. Stimulate with the novel. Our brains are attracted to all things new. New languages (or words), images that we haven’t seen before and the unpredictable all make our brains kick into gear and pay attention. Get away from the predictability of Powerpoint® and deliberately include the unpredictable in the learning experiences you design.
  4. Use stories. Stories are powerful ways for promoting understanding and giving learning a context that connects in real ways with your learners. Stories capture our imaginations and make things real in a way that straight factual teaching just can’t. Make sure that your stories create and experience for your group.

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