Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Using Variety and Unmet Needs as a Catalyst to Innovation in the Workplace

Innovators new experiences and knowledge to generate new ideas. According to a study in the journal Creativity & Innovation Management, variety seeking and unmet needs leads to service generation ideas (Duverger, 2012). Those who couldn't get their needs met in one arena sought out new opportunities in another arena to fulfill their needs by constant environmental searches. Using their innovative spirit and unmet needs it is possible design jobs that lead to greater innovation.

The same can be said of other types of innovation that occur in the workplace. It doesn't happen simply by putting bright minds in jobs. People must learn and become aware of the entire organizational context and its pieces. A way of conceptualizing the business and its operations from a different perspective.

That takes a level of exploratory behavior that isn't common in most organizations. Innovative people need the chance to work with, explore, and create novelty to discover new things. they will need a little more free hand to understand the nature of the problem and work on finding solutions to those problems. There are no hard and fast rules.

Innovators are driven by their unmet needs to explore their environment. These needs can be personal or professional by nature. Internal motivation comes from a drive to accomplish something. Letting those unmet needs fester and develop into a constructive idea that helps fulfill them is helpful.

New ideas have merit when there is enough supporting information to make them viable. One must have a solid understanding of a variety of situations and things that work to connect people and things together to solve lasting problems.  Eventually and slowly new ideas will bubble forward that can be explored for viability.

It is important to think of job design here and how to expose key innovators to new ideas and work roles while still maintaining a functional business. A difficult balance because much time and effort can be wasted on activities that contribute but don't necessarily lead to innovation. Allowing key individuals to have awareness of the activities throughout the organization can be helpful.

Duverger, P. (2012). Variety is the Spice of Innovation: Mediating Factors in the Service Idea Generation Process. Creativity & Innovation Management, 21 (1).

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