It doesn’t seem to matter how many books are written about “getting stuck” in the workplace, innovation and creativity can be tough to sustain when the company culture is committed to “doing things the way we’ve always done.” Even though a business or company may pay lip service to progress and creative problem-solving, it only takes a few people in key positions to nip any potential progress in the bud. The end result, of course, it that the most creative and visionary employees move on to more flexible environments and a company ends up slipping further and further into the dark ages.
Hiring new blood and bringing in employees or consultants known for their innovation, excitement, and fresh ideas doesn’t really do much good if the company culture isn’t prepared to incorporate this type of work and thinking. While there are a few rare individuals who are charismatic and political enough to get things done in a stifling company culture, most creative individuals also need to be empowered and encouraged. Otherwise, they’ll take their ideas and their energy elsewhere. In order to create an environment ripe for progress, you’ll need to look over your entire organization and evaluate which employees are sitting in which positions and whether or not they are encouraging or hindering progress.
This doesn’t mean that every new idea is great, of course, or that innovation and progress is always a recipe for success. There can be good balance in encouraging teams with both innovators and traditionalists. But there needs to be equal empowerment and an environment that allows for mistakes, trial and error, and flexible creativity. Sure, some of the individuals who prefer routine and an established status quo will get nervous and uncomfortable-but that’s a big part of progress and innovation. Change can be exciting in both a positive and disconcerting way. Innovators, however, thrive on finding new, more efficient and more profitable ways of doing things. Any company or organization has to stay open to change in order to stay dynamic and growing.
So, in looking over your operations and your personnel turnover, evaluate whether or not you are losing creative new employees because they have nowhere to go with their ideas. Just because someone has been with the company longer, doesn’t mean they are still contributing in a way that encourages growth-they may actually be inhibiting growth if they are in a position of thwarting innovation, creativity and new ideas.