If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change - Wayne Dryer

Many organisations do not like to try new things. People tend to maintain the status quo when they fear change or the world after a change; but beyond this fear, toward embracing new possibilities, lies the opportunity to innovate. No longer is it sufficient to diversify just to reach quotas, but rather to attain more thorough and thoughtful development of ideas to get the most out of our employees and achieve exceptional business results. So how should organizations approach adopting an innovative mindset to stay relevant? 

1. Build a diverse workforce

Creating a climate of acceptance for every new possibility is a challenge. The climate has to be there all the time. In other words, the organization has to welcome innovation with open arms. Psychology dictates that we all look at the world in a different way and that the way we are brought up facilitates the manner in which we look at problems and create solutions. Things do not change when we get the same people around the table to enable creative problem solving. Diversify your workforce and you will invariably change the way you interact with your peers, customers and the ever changing market demands. It takes a wide range of diverse minds, cultures and experiences to connect with different audiences. Maximize the value of employee’s individual talents and your bottom line will thank you for it.

2. Lead with a lateral mindset

Creating a climate for creativity starts with leaderships behaviour. While organisations are changing the way in which work gets done, the way leaders manage their workforce is much the same. Leadership is a skill. One that can and should be developed and refined on an ongoing basis. Given the pace at which organisations must move and how much more collaborative they have become, effective leadership requires leaders to engage with the topic of diversity in a meaningful way, through real-time conversations that focus on extracting the potential from each individual. The unique ways in which people think is a reflection of who they are. If employees do not feel like they can be themselves in the office, then their varied ways of thinking will not be realised. Drop the traditional approaches to hierarchical leadership that are no longer effective and focus on making those around you better. If you can see the best in people, you can get the best out of people.

3. Banish the ‘innovation’ buzzword

Innovation is for everyone. A curious attitude and the desire to ask, “what if” isn't a phrase secured for a small sector of the population. Creativity knows no bounds and neither should you. Innovation is largely a word we associate with big tech companies - so how does it translate into smaller businesses that don’t make the headlines? Innovation for everyone means letting go of stereotypes and embracing a diverse workforce. It means adapting your processes and reevaluating ways to approach problems. Time and time again, people approach their job with the mindset that comfort is key. They know their roles, their space and their industry and they don’t venture out for fear of the consequences of change. Innovating requires accepting change is inevitable and working with it, rather than against it. This starts from creating a culture where diversity is at the forefront of business’ agenda; where mistakes are seen as stepping stones, failure is seen as learning and autonomy of thought is part of the job description.

How are you diversifying your workforce to encourage an innovative, growth culture?