Big, disruptive innovations may grab headlines, but they’re not the only form of innovation in a chemical manufacturing organisation.
While these innovations are undoubtedly important, sometimes it’s the small incremental improvements that create significant changes.
Innovation should be seen as a process that can be developed, not as a slogan with no substance.
Building an innovative mindset among all workers is therefore crucial. It’s just as important as driving sustained success and creating a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
It all leads to a more engaged workforce, improved productivity and increased customer satisfaction.
Innovation is more likely to come from a person who sits down and does the same thing every single day until they become an expert than from a person who sits down once because they feel inspired. – Stacy Caprio, online marketer
Innovation has become the business buzzword of the decade. The overuse and generalisation of the term “innovation” have led to a loss of understanding of what it really is.
We’ve lost sight of the specific skills and behaviours needed to be innovative, says former intelligence analyst Michael O’Bryan in WIRED.
But predictions for the global economy indicate that innovation is the key to our future. There are uncountable innovation initiatives to change the status quo across the planet.
So why haven’t we solved all our problems?
Because we need to teach people to think and act as innovators.
Innovation should not be discussed as a specific term but as a series of skills and behaviours that a person must hold to be innovative.
It’s the ability to discover, develop and test ideas and solutions that will result in positive changes.
To be truly innovative, says O’Bryan, you need a combination of critical, conceptual, creative, reflective and visionary thinking skills.
Add in behavioural traits such as curiosity, resilience, the ability to collaborate, as well as the development of both observation and communication skills.
While this list can be modified, the point is that innovation is mainly used as a slogan – all style over substance – not as a process.
The good news is that all the skills and behaviours needed to be innovative are teachable.
One can learn to think critically, look for patterns and realise that failure is only a temporary setback. Employees can be encouraged to seek different experiences and new study areas, work together and feed their curiosity.
Leaders can be shown how to value innovative skills and start producing employees that exhibit these skills.
Building an innovative mindset among workers is a process and can be achieved by developing the necessary skills and behaviours. Here are some steps that chemical manufacturers can take to build an innovative mindset:
Encourage workers to ask questions and seek out new ideas by promoting a culture of curiosity. Leaders can encourage their employees to experiment with new ideas and approaches and be comfortable taking risks and trying new things. This also contributes to building resilience.
Guarantee the proper tools workers need to access data and practise innovation. Encourage workers to observe and explore data and identify patterns, trends and opportunities for improvement. Let them test ideas.
Train workers on data analysis tools and techniques, such as data visualisation and statistical analysis, creating the ground for critical thinking. This will help workers to understand concepts better and use data to drive innovation. Define experts that people can refer to in case of questions.
Implement a data-driven decision-making process that encourages workers to look for data-driven insights over intuition or past experiences. This everyday exercise will help to build critical thinking and improve communication and collaboration.
Innovative leaders who are willing to take risks and try new things can inspire their employees to do the same.
Encourage collaboration among workers and departments to share data and insights. This will help workers to build a broader understanding of the organisation’s data and processes. Value leaders that serve as inspiration.
Value successes and innovations, and recognise workers who develop new ideas and implement solutions.
An innovative mindset and continuous improvement (CI) are closely related, as both focus on driving improvement and progress in an organisation.
Another critical point is that to build both, we need people. It’s an everyday effort to trust and challenge workers to identify, find and implement solutions, removing waste from work.
CI and an innovative mindset complement each other.
A culture of CI provides a framework for systematically identifying and implementing improvements in existing processes, products and services.
On the other hand, an innovative mindset generates new ideas and approaches that can drive improvements and create new opportunities in the plants.
Innovation is often associated with breakthrough technologies or disruptive ideas that fundamentally change how things are done.
An innovative mindset is broader than generating breakthroughs. It’s about encouraging workers to think creatively and continuously seek out new ways of doing things and solving problems.
This can lead to minor, incremental improvements that add up over time to create significant progress.
It is not a breakthrough when you see it at first, but being capable of transforming a manufacturing team to think innovatively is magic.
Cyzag Platform helps you on building the innovation path.
It engages users to be innovative, break existing barriers and experiment daily.
Our tool was created and is continuously improved using the design-thinking methodology.
This places the user at the core of design, making it possible to empathise with their environment and specific problems.
Book a demo, and we’ll show you how.