Innovation begins with an open discussion environment.

What are the conditions where an innovative environment can flourish? Many times, employees are sent on training to gain new skills and ideas, yet there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of implementation when they return to the workplace. This leads to the conclusion that the training was not successful. Or is it more that the home workplace isn’t conducive to innovation.

In the book “Influencer; The Power to Change Anything”, there is a wonderful account of a large manufacturing company that sent hundreds of employees on several weeks of Six Sigma training to improve their quality management system. However, the company was seeing almost no benefit. The graduates did not seem to be applying any of the new tools they had spent weeks learning.

A search was done to find successful implementation of the program. It was found that the new tools were used to improve the work quality when three conditions existed:

1- The managers did not shoot down innovative ideas. They were open to them. The workers felt empowered to vigorously and skillfully challenge their manager.

2- All the teammates were held responsible and accountable for the success of the team. Lagards were dealt with. Everyone carried their weight.

3- Open discussions were held about policies and practices that impeded improvements.

The successful teams had stepped up the dialogue with an open discussion environment. In so doing innovation flourished. One of the interesting side benefits was the cynicism decreased as well.

The manager sets the work environment. To encourage innovation and reduce cynicism, the three conditions noted above need to be implemented. It all begins with an open discussion environment.

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