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How Leaders Utilize Innovation and Creative Thinking to Implement Change

By Maya Camou

In organizational leadership, innovation and creative thinking are essential tools to help bring on organizational change. In any type of organization, from public to private, there needs to be constant analysis and evaluation of systems. When both of these terms are heard there usually is fear of “How can I do that?” and “Creative what?” Innovation is such a scary and misunderstood word to a lot of people. Leaders that understand both the simplicity and the complexity of these strategies will go far in their organizational implementation strategies.

To simplify innovation one merely has to look at it this way – to innovate is to simply tweak or modify existing systems to improve process or create something new from the existing. Innovation happens every day but we might not define it as such. An example would be finding a new way to market existing products to current clientele or just marketing to a new demographic. Innovation will begin with holistic analysis of all opportunity sources. The organizational leaders will have to go out and look, ask and listen as innovation is both conceptual and perceptual. They will have to look at figures, people and work out analytically what the innovation has to be to satisfy an opportunity. Then, they will have to understand who the users are so they can study their expectations, their values and their needs. Effective innovation needs to start small and requires hard, focused and purposeful work.1 To create innovative organizations, some strategies that could be used are:

  • Improving employees’ understanding of what innovation is and how the organization is committed to this objective.
  • Develop organizational strategies that promote innovation.
  • Pilot innovation concepts before committing too many assets.
  • Advocate the application of innovation policies and training throughout the organization.
  • Instill reward systems that reward those who bring change and innovation.2

Allowing your personnel or team to think creatively will help lead to innovation. “Creativity is the process in which new and useful ideas are generated.”3 Using creative management techniques and methodologies will help employees see beyond their existing field of vision. This will aid in the ability to find connections, organizational needs and solutions that were not seen before. Also, for organizational change to happen, organizational teams will have to be positive, as it is impossible to be creative if you are negative. Leaders have to create environments where their employees can thrive and be positive. I recently conducted a working group to start to imbed these creative thinking techniques in a governmental organization; the response was very positive. Everyone left the meeting energized and thinking that change is possible. They were all ready to make a difference. But always remember, you will have to follow up right away, continue the process and build on this positive energy these techniques help bring. If that is not done, it will go back to the status quo and everything that is attempted to happen will not succeed to its fullest capacities.

To learn how you can better develop your creative thinking skills, click here or call (855) 841-2843 to speak with the Admissions office about Manhattan College’s online master’s degree  in Organizational Leadership.

1Drucker, Peter F., November-December 1998. The Discipline of Innovation, pg 3-8 Harvard Business Review HBR Classic Reprint Number 98604
2Stowe, Charles R. B & Grider, Doug, April 2014. Strategies for advancing organizational innovation, Journal of Management and Marketing Research Volume 15 – AABRI Journals.
3Dawson, Patrick and Anderiopoulos, Constantine 2014. Managing Change, Creativity & Innovation, Second Edition. Pg. 12 Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications Inc.